Victims Mixed On TV Execution

Survivors and relatives of those who died in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing had varied reactions to a suggestion by the convicted bomber that his execution be televised nationally.

Timothy McVeigh, convicted in the bombing that killed 168 people, wants his scheduled May 16 execution to be broadcast on television, he wrote in a letter published in the Sunday edition of The Oklahoman newspaper.

"It has … been said that all of Oklahoma was a victim of the bombing. Can all of Oklahoma watch?" McVeigh wrote.

McVeigh awaits execution on federal death row in Terre Haute for detonating a truck bomb on April 19, 1995, that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.

In December, McVeigh indicated to a federal judge that he wished to waive all further appeals and set an execution date. The May 16 date was set last month.

McVeigh wrote the letter in response to a lawsuit filed by eight survivors and members of victim's families asking for a closed-circuit telecast of McVeigh's execution.

Although saying he did not object to a possible closed-circuit telecast of his execution by lethal injection, set for a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., he questioned in the letter how such a telecast could be done fairly.

"Because the closed-circuit telecast of my execution raises these fundamental equal access concerns, and because I am otherwise not opposed to such a telecast, a reasonable solution seems obvious: hold a true 'public' execution — allow a public broadcast," McVeigh, 32, wrote in the letter dated Feb. 1.

The Oklahoman said McVeigh's lawyer, Rob Nigh Jr., confirmed that McVeigh wrote the letter and that he was serious about the proposal.

Some relatives of victims are deeply opposed to the idea of a public execution.

"Are citizens going to see this sitting in a bar?" asked Tom Kight, whose daughter, Frankie Merrell, died in the bombing. "What about the people who follow him, the right-wing anti-government people? I think Tim would like to go out a martyr."

Paul Heath, a psychologist who worked for the Veterans Administration on the fifth floor of the Murrah building, said he was concerned about McVeigh seeing himself as a hero.

"I believe he is a delusional revolutionary who believes he is Earl Turner," Heath said, referring to the main character of the anti-government book, The Turner Diaries. A copy of the book was in McVeigh's car when he was arrested.

Bud Welch, whose daughter, Julie, was killed in the bombing, said he thinks that McVeigh is suicidal and that the execution would be similar to assisted suicide. Welch in recent years has become a vocal opponent of the death penalty.

"He is obviously not of a stable mind, and I think we can all agree on that," Welch said.

Darlene Welc, who is not related to Bud Welch, said she would like to attend McVeigh's execution.

"Personally, I want to see his dead body."

The paper said the Federal Bureau of Prisons was reviewing the possibility of a closed-circuit telecast for surviving victims of the bombing. It said a national broadcast of the execution had not been discussed.

"It hasn't been considered. It won't happen," bureau spokesman Dan Dunne was quoted as saying.

Federal officials have said that about 250 people among the hundreds of surviving victims of the bombing have expressed interest in witnessing the execution.

Officials have said the Federal Bureau of Prisons is weighing how to accommodate the large number, possibly by showing the execution on closed-circuit television to a gathering place in Oklahoma City.


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