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McVeigh Asks Judge to Set Execution Date

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Timothy J. McVeigh, who was sentenced to death for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, has asked a federal judge to halt any appeals made on his behalf and set an execution date soon.

“I believe I am fully competent to make this decision,” McVeigh wrote in an affidavit released Tuesday at U.S. District Court here. “If the court thinks that a psychological evaluation is necessary to make certain I am competent, I will submit to such an evaluation.

“I will not justify or explain my decision to any psychologist, but will answer questions related to my competency.”

In his Thursday affidavit, McVeigh acknowledged that he made the request against the advice of his attorneys. He asked that U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch set an execution date in the next 120 days.

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Defense attorney Nathan Chambers said McVeigh had been considering dropping his appeals for some time. “This is not a snap decision. The judge is going to want to make a determination that Mr. McVeigh’s decision is a decision he made voluntarily and knowingly.”

The 32-year-old former soldier was convicted of the April 19, 1995, truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and injured 850 others. A day-care center in the building was destroyed in the attack, which was the worst act of terrorism ever carried out on American soil.

McVeigh has twice appealed his 1997 conviction and death sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court in March 1999 let McVeigh’s conviction stand. His most recent appeal in U.S. District Court here contended he did not receive a fair trial. McVeigh alleged poor representation by his attorney, whom he claimed was preoccupied with writing a book about the case. Matsch rejected the appeal in October without a hearing.

“We believe that Mr. McVeigh’s right to counsel was violated and the trial attorney operated in a hopeless conflict of interest,” Chambers said. “I have no doubt about that.”

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Since the last appeal was denied, McVeigh instructed his lawyers not to pursue any further appeals, Chambers said.

McVeigh’s waiver extends only to his right to appeal within the court system. He still has the right to petition for executive clemency.

McVeigh is being held at a high security penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., the nation’s newest federal death row. Prisoners convicted under the 1994 federal death penalty statute are to be executed by lethal injection. No hearing date has been set yet for the judge to consider McVeigh’s request.

Terry L. Nichols, McVeigh’s Army buddy, is serving a life sentence after being convicted in a separate trial of conspiracy and manslaughter in the bombing case.


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