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McVeigh prepares for Monday execution

Timothy McVeigh
McVeigh, who has ended his appeals, will die by lethal injection at the federal pentitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. ET) Monday.  

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) -- Timothy McVeigh Friday prepared himself "psychologically and emotionally" for his execution after deciding against making a final appeal for a second postponement, his lawyers said.

"Tim has had a struggle for a long time about what the end of his case would be, he felt all along that he would be put to death, and he vacillated between holding onto life, and letting go of life, over many months," attorney Richard Burr said in an interview from Houston.

McVeigh, 33, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. ET) Monday at the Federal Penitentiary here for the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people. McVeigh would be the first federal prisoner executed since 1963.

"He is probably writing a number of letters to people, he maintains correspondence with many many people, who care about him, and I know that he is probably doing whatever one does psychologically and emotionally, to get ready for something like this," Burr said.

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McVeigh's lawyers announce his decision to stop legally challenging his execution (June 8)

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CNN Legal Analyst Roger Cossack explains how government prosecutor Sean Connelly won the ruling (June 6)

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Roger Cossack: McVeigh's legal options
Read documents in the McVeigh case (FindLaw) (PDF)

U.S. Court of Appeals denies McVeigh's stay request, June 7

Transcript of the McVeigh stay hearing, June 6

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Reaction to judge's denial of stay for McVeigh

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McVeigh was expected to be moved to an isolation cell near the execution facility sometime Friday.

Attorneys Rob Nigh and Nathan Chambers will be "on call" in Terre Haute all weekend for their client.

On Sunday, the day before his date with the death chamber, McVeigh will meet with his lawyers "to make any preparations that they need to make with Tim," said attorney Christopher Tritico.

"The problem that I have with this whole, with this whole situation, is that we're rushing to an execution, and giving someone the ultimate punishment when there is a real and substantial concern about whether or not his trial was fair," Tritico said.

"If in the end it turns out like I believe, the FBI is guilty of misconduct here and we've executed Mr. McVeigh, then the Constitution failed."

After the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his petition for a stay, McVeigh Thursday calmly instructed his attorneys to drop his final appeal so he can begin making final preparations to face execution.

The appeals court said McVeigh's lawyers had "utterly failed to demonstrate grounds" for a stay and said it was in "complete agreement with McVeigh's candid concession" in his court filings that the withheld FBI materials would not have changed the guilty verdict.

Burr told CNN McVeigh's preparations were likely similar to those of other death row convicts he has represented. "I have never quite been able to imagine how one does it, but I've seen many people do it, and it is a process of gathering one's own internal strength," he said.

Burr said McVeigh has no intention of trying to stop the execution. "If Tim changed his mind, a petition could be filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, but that's not going to happen," he said.

Monday morning, about 300 survivors and victims' family members will board buses to go to a jail facility near the Oklahoma City airport to view the execution via a closed-circuit television hook-up.

The death chamber is in a brick, windowless building on the west side of the 33-acre prison campus. The adjacent holding cell where McVeigh will spend his final hours contains a narrow bunk and toilet facilities.

Inside the chamber is a brown, padded gurney to which he will be strapped Monday morning. On three sides of the green-tiled room, separated from the death chamber by glass, witnesses will watch the execution.

McVeigh, a decorated Army Gulf War veteran, is one of 20 people on federal death row at the penitentiary.

This weekend, a government plane will transport 10 Oklahomans to witness the execution in person.

Six months ago, McVeigh had said he was ready to die and dropped further appeals. He changed strategy after the FBI disclosed May 11 -- five days before his original date of execution -- that it had inadvertently withheld thousands of pages of investigatory documents from his trial defense.

McVeigh's attorneys had claimed the failure to produce the materials before McVeigh's 1997 trial constituted a fraud on the court. Trial Judge Richard Matsch ruled Wednesday the defense failed to provide evidence of any fraud.

"I think that he had a renewed interest in struggling with this because of the FBI's misconduct, but I think with the denial of the stay from Judge Matsch, he simply felt like there was no alternative, and that for himself he needed to gather his own resources and get ready for this," Burr said.

Burr said that, had McVeigh appealed to the high court, the justices might have granted him a stay for the "real truth" could be told.

"I think the Supreme Court might have seen that that was an overarching concern, and might have seen that the way to get to it was through Mr. McVeigh's case, and the only way to do that was to stay the execution."

In Oklahoma City, security has been increased outside where the Murrah building used to stand.

Members of the news media have already arrived in Terre Haute, population 57,000. Penitentiary spokesman James Cross said 1,700 people have requested press credentials to cover the execution, but only 10 journalists will be allowed to watch from witness rooms inside the penitentiary.

Prison officials, who said McVeigh does not want to be photographed before his execution, have refused to allow on-camera interviews of McVeigh.


• U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
• Federal Bureau of Investigation

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