McVEIGH TRIAL JUDGE LETS EXECUTION DATE STAND
by Bill Johnson
American Reporter Correspondent
Oklahoma City, Okla.
OKLAHOMA CITY, June 6, 2001 -- The judge who heard Timothy McVeigh's bom= bing case said Wednesday it was "shocking" that the FBI had failed to turn = over all evidence to the defendant, but he said there was nothing in thousa= nds of additional pages that were withheld that would keep McVeigh from dyi= ng as scheduled next Monday.
U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch surprised almost everyone with his q= uick ruling after a hearing that lasted little more than an hour in his Den= ver courtroom.
Defense attorneys immediately said they would appeal to th= e 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court, if nec= essary. They argued that some of the papers indicated there could be more p= eople involved in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred Murrah federal = building here. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who earlier granted a stay after 4,= 400 pages of additional evidence were found by the FBI, vowed the execution= would go forward as scheduled.
"The ruling of the court in Denver today is a ruling for justice," Ashcr= oft said.
Matsch was visibly angry that the FBI had failed to turn over the eviden= ce to McVeigh's defense, as ordered. But he said there was nothing in the l= ate-found evidence that would in any way mitigate McVeigh's guilt.
"As th= e 12 jurors believe it (the verdict) is justified under all circumstances a= nd executed their moral judgment as a conscience of the community, whatever= may in time be discovered about the possible involvement of others does no= t change the fact that Timothy McVeigh was theinstrument of death and destr= uction," Matsch said.
Regardless of whether others had played any role in the bombing, "i= t is clear Timothy McVeigh committed murder and mayhem as charged," the jud= ge said.
Rob Nigh, one of McVeigh's attorneys, said afterward, "We are ex= tremely disappointed in the court's ruling today."
McVeigh was at war against the U.S. government, Matsch said. "But the Un= ited States government is not some abstraction, not some alien force. It is= the American people, people in the Murrah Building who were there in servi= ce to their fellow American people."
Nigh argued that federal officials knew six months ago there were docume= nts that had been withheld from the defense, but did not begin turning them= over until six days before McVeigh's original execution date of May 16. It= was then that Ashcroft gave McVeigh a one-month stay of execution. Nigh as= ked Matsch to give McVeigh additional time to review the FBI papers.
The = judge said he recalled getting a letter from Sean Connelly, a federal prose= cutor, telling him some documents in he case had been withheld.
"It's a good thing I was in quiet chambers and not in court because my j= udicial temperament escaped me when I read it," Matsch said. "It was shocki= ng."
Connelly has pointed out that McVeigh confessed to the car bombing i= n a recent book and also said that he alone carried out the worst act of te= rrorism on American soil.
Nigh told the court that one of the newly relea= sed documents included information on a potential witness, who he said was = news to the defense.
The source was not identified, but Matsch said, "You also could understa= nd why one could question the reliability of the source."
Defense attor= neys contended in a brief filed Tuesday that they might have been able to i= dentify others who had major roles in the bombing if they had received the = disputed 4,400 FBI documents before trial. They also alleged the government= is continuing to withhold evidence.