McVeigh's Attorney Remembers Final Hours

ByABC News via via logo

T E R R E  H A U T E,   Ind., June 12, 2001 -- ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer spoke with Timothy McVeigh's former attorney Nathan Chambers as he prepared to leave Terre Haute, Ind., today. Chambers met with McVeigh for the last time about two hours before his execution Monday.

The following is a transcript of Chambers' interview with Sawyer on Good Morning America.

Nathan Chambers, Attorney: It was a short meeting of maybe 15 minutes. He was very calm. He was pleasant. He smiled. He didn't appear to be anxious at all about what was going to happen in two hours. It was, it was really not particularly an uncomfortable meeting given the circumstances.

ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer: I wondered about that, because a coroner had said that when he saw him, he was far from the soldier, that, in fact, he was anxious and frightened. Did you ever see any of that?

Chambers: I didn't see that. That's all a matter of personal opinion. People can view the same event and see things differently. I thought that that was noted yesterday by the way the different press pool members described the execution, watching the same event, some of this described or observed different things.

Sawyer: You did say at one point that he had joked with you about the death chamber being air-conditioned?

Chambers: I'm trying to remember when I, on Sunday when I saw him, he simply commented that there was air conditioning in the execution facility and that took a little bit of getting acclimated too because the facility he had been in before on death row was not air conditioned. It was hot in there and it took a while for his body to get acclimated to the air conditioning in the execution facility.

Sawyer: It wasn't along the lines of at least that was pleasant?

Chambers: It wasn't a criticism or a compliment either one about the execution facility. It was simply an observation that he had to get used to air conditioning because he hadn't been in it for a long time. He stated to many people that he was agnostic.

Sawyer: Were you surprised that he decided to get last rites by a Catholic priest?

Chambers: I was a little surprised by that. The way that occurred was that at our 4:30 meeting, Mr. Nigh [another McVeigh attorney] and I spoke briefly to the warden. The warden told us there was a priest available to administer last rites if Mr. McVeigh wanted that. We conveyed that to Mr. McVeigh and he said he would like to have last rites. The warden made it happen.

Sawyer: No explanation of why he changed his mind?

Chambers: I don't know if it was a change of mind. The issue never was brought up to us before. When the opportunity was presented to him yesterday morning, he took it.

Sawyer: And another curiosity — were you surprised when his death certificate listed his profession as soldier?

Chambers: I've only seen reports of that. I haven't actually seen the death certificate.

Sawyer: You don't know whose decision that was?

Chambers: I do not. I'm thinking of you today after that long day yesterday for the country.

Sawyer: Do you just get up and go back to work on another case? Or does this change you forever?

Chambers: I don't know how it will change me. I suspect that I will be changed but I do go back to work starting tomorrow with other clients who need representation.

Sawyer: How shaken have you been today?

Chambers: You know, I don't know how it's going to affect me, Diane.I think I'm OK.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events