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McVeigh execution: A 'completion of justice'

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A hearse arrives at the prison in Terre Haute shortly after McVeigh's execution. Authorities later said that his body was removed in a government van.  


TERRE HAUTE, Indiana -- Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh died without saying a word Monday at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, minutes after a deadly stream of drugs was administered through a needle in his right leg.

Federal officials declared the man responsible for the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history dead by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. (8:14 a.m. EDT)

McVeigh, 33, was executed for the April 19, 1995, attack in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more. It was the first federal execution since 1963.

Speaking from the White House briefing room about an hour and a half after the execution, President Bush told reporters that McVeigh "met the fate he chose for himself six years ago." Bush said, "Under the laws of our country the matter is concluded."

Witnesses said McVeigh lifted his head and made eye contact with them before the drugs took effect. Then he looked at the ceiling. He died with his eyes open. (More on the witnesses' accounts)

McVeigh did not make a verbal statement before the execution. But in a handwritten statement, McVeigh quoted a section of the poem "Invictus," which reads in part "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."

Ten members of the victims' families and survivors of the bombing watched the execution from a room beside the death chamber.

Holding photographs of her daughter, who died in the bombing, witness Kathleen Treanor said she needed to see the execution with her own eyes. Treanor was among the survivors and victims' relatives who watched the execution through a closed-circuit television feed more than 650 miles away.

"It's a demarcation point," Treanor said immediately following the execution. "It's a period at the end of a sentence. It's the completion of justice and that's what I'll remember about today."

Treanor said McVeigh appeared to glare at the cameras.

Larry Whicher, whose brother was killed in the bombing, said McVeigh had a defiant stare and showed no remorse. (More on victims' reactions)

McVeigh attorneys Nathan Chambers and Robert Nigh also witnessed the execution in Terre Haute, along with McVeigh biographer Lou Michel, members of the media and Cate McCauley, former director of the independent Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee.

"If there is anything good that can come from the execution of Tim McVeigh, it may be to help us realize that we simply cannot do this any more. I am firmly convinced that it is not a question of if we will stop, it's simply a question of when," Nigh said. (More reaction)

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President Bush: "The matter is concluded ... for the survivors of the crime and for the families of the dead, the pain goes on"  

McVeigh met with his attorneys for the last time early Monday. He declined to have a spiritual adviser present and asked his family not to attend.

McVeigh spent his final night in a windowless 9-by-14-foot holding cell adjacent to the death chamber. Prison officials said his final meal was two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

"Quite frankly, he is ready to die," Nigh said Sunday after a one-hour meeting with McVeigh.

McVeigh had been preparing to die since last December, when he asked U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch to waive all future appeals of his death sentence. Matsch complied in a January hearing and the Bureau of Prisons scheduled his execution for May 16.

His execution date was thrown into doubt, however, when the FBI revealed that it failed to turn over more than 4,400 pages of documents to McVeigh's defense. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was in Oklahoma City Monday, postponed the execution for several weeks, and McVeigh's attorneys sought in vain to delay it further.

Both Judge Matsch and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected McVeigh's attorneys' claims that they needed more time to determine whether information in the documents could have convinced a jury not to sentence their client to death. McVeigh chose last week not to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, death penalty supporters and opponents gathered overnight in Terre Haute near the federal prison.

About 75 anti-death penalty protesters had participated in a two-mile march from St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church to the prison on Sunday. (More on the protests)


Greta@LAW






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