McVeigh Asks for Public Execution

ByABC News

O K L A H O M A   C I T Y, Feb. 11, 2001 -- Convicted Oklahoma City bomber TimothyMcVeigh wrote in a published letter that his execution should bebroadcast publicly.

In a letter published in The Sunday Oklahoman, McVeighquestioned the fairness of limiting the number of witnesses to hisexecution. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is considering aclosed-circuit broadcast to accommodate survivors and relatives ofvictims.

"Because the closed-circuit telecast of my execution raisesthese fundamental equal access concerns, and because I am otherwisenot opposed to such a telecast, a reasonable solution seemsobvious: hold a true public execution — allow a public broadcast,"he wrote.

McVeigh, 32, is set to be executed May 16 by injection at thefederal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., for his role in theApril 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.The bombing killed 168 people and injured 500.

McVeigh's attorney, Rob Nigh Jr., confirmed that McVeigh wrotethe letter and is serious about broadcasting his execution.

"He is in favor of public scrutiny of government action,including his execution," Nigh told the newspaper.

About 250 people who survived or lost family members in thebombing have asked to see McVeigh's execution, but only eight seatsare available for witnesses on behalf of victims.

Not an Option

A national broadcast is not an option, bureau spokesman DanDunne said.

"It hasn't been considered. It won't happen," Dunne said.

Closed-circuit television has been a part of McVeigh's legalprocess from the start. His Denver trial was shown to bombingvictims at an auditorium in Oklahoma City.

In McVeigh's Feb. 1 handwritten letter, he wondered who would beconsidered for watching his execution.

"It has … been said that all of Oklahoma was a victim of thebombing. Can all of Oklahoma watch?" he wrote.

He also complained in the letter about the limits put on hiswitness list. McVeigh can have six witnesses, including onespiritual adviser, two lawyers and three adult relatives orfriends.

McVeigh would be the first federal inmate executed since 1963.He dropped all appeals in January and has until Friday to seekclemency from President Bush.

The idea of televising executions is not new in the UnitedStates. Several states, including Oklahoma, have allowed relativesof murder victims to watch executions on closed-circuit television.

In 1994, former talk-show host Phil Donahue tried to getpermission to televise the execution of murderer David Lawson, butwas denied by the North Carolina Supreme Court and the U.S. SupremeCourt.

McVeigh will not make a legal push for a public execution, butNigh said he supports the idea.

"If it is our collective judgment that capital punishment is areasonable response to crime, we need to come to grips with what itactually is," he said.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events