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McVeigh expected to request execution delay today

Nathan Chambers, Robert Nigh
McVeigh attorneys, Nathan Chambers, left and Robert Nigh, speak with the media after May 16 meeting with Timothy McVeigh  

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) -- Attorneys for Timothy McVeigh are just hours away from a scheduled meeting with the convicted Oklahoma City bomber at a federal prison in Indiana where he is expected to request a postponement of his June 11 execution.

"Mr. McVeigh believes that the information that we have discovered is worthy of judicial review," his attorney, Rob Nigh, said Tuesday. "We are optimistic that he will permit us to make a filing on his behalf. No final decision will be reached until we meet with him in person later this week."

Nigh declined to provide details of the planned court filing, but he has said repeatedly that the legal team cannot complete its review of more than 4,000 pages of newly provided documents from the FBI's investigation of the case by June 11.

In Washington, the Justice Department said Attorney General John Ashcroft was unlikely to grant another delay.

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Execution of Timothy McVeigh
Oklahoma City Bombing
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In a press conference, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft discusses FBI handling of documents in the McVeigh bombing case (May 24)

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"The Justice Department has reviewed the documents carefully and we are prepared to defend McVeigh's conviction and the sentence that has been imposed," said Chris Watney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department.

"The attorney general has delayed the execution date to give all the attorneys sufficient time to review the documents. He will not support another delay based on documents that cast no doubt about the surety of McVeigh's guilt," Watney added.

The papers would be filed with U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch, the same judge who sentenced McVeigh to die for the April 19, 1995, attack.

McVeigh's execution was moved to June 11 to give his legal team time to review more than 3,100 pages of documents that the FBI did not hand over until just days before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft granted a 30-day delay May 11 saying it was his duty to "protect the integrity of the system of justice."

Last week Ashcroft said he would not grant any further delays.

He said attorneys familiar with the case had conducted an "item-by-item" review of all of the documents and did not find any evidence that would justify further delays.

"I will not delay the sentence of a confessed mass murderer. I will not delay his sentence further based on documents which cast no doubt about the surety of his guilt," Ashcroft said.

McVeigh had waived all of his appeals, prior to the discovery of the documents, but has since agreed to review all of his options.


• Federal Bureau of Investigation

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