BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Oklahoma mulls execution delay
Oklahoma's National Memorial Museum: photos of victims
The bombing killed 168 people
By Rob Watson in Oklahoma City

Survivors and relatives of the 168 people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing have been coming to terms with the idea that they will not now see Timothy McVeigh executed for the crime on Wednesday.

The pain will never go away

Victims' grandmother
The execution was delayed until 11 June, after the FBI announced it had found some key documents it had failed to produce at the trial.

The US Attorney-General, John Ashcroft, has promised there will not be any more delays in the execution.

But lawyers for Mr McVeigh say 30 days may not be enough time for them to look at the newly-released evidence from the FBI.


At a cemetery just a few miles from the site of the bombing, Jenny Coverdale has won a small victory.

Timothy McVeigh
McVeigh is said to be reconsidering his decision not to appeal
After a six-year battle, an American flag is being planted by the graves of her two grandchildren, Aaron and Elijah, killed in the blast.

But she is bitterly disappointed it will not now be followed by the execution.

"The pain will never go away," she said.

"I lost my boys that morning. Wednesday's execution meant that I would never have to listen to anything Timothy McVeigh said again.

"And I was so thankful that Tim was going to be shut up finally, so he can't hurt anybody any more. But that's not going to happen - not yet."

'Laborious process'

At the Memorial Museum to those killed, Oklahoma's Governor, Frank Keating, says he understands the frustration of families and survivors alike, but insists there is a higher principle at stake:

What's more important than McVeigh is that the process, the rule of law in this society, be respected by all the people

Oklahoma governor
"A lot of people are saying: 'But I thought he confessed to it, I thought he waived all of his appeals. Why is he back in our faces again?'

"But that's the process. It's long and laborious.

"But what's more important than McVeigh is that the process, the rule of law in this society, be respected by all the people. So, as frustrating as it is, people will accept it."

Until now, at least, Timothy McVeigh has always insisted he wanted to die: no more appeals, no more courts.

McVeigh reconsiders

For many Oklahomans, the real concern is that he may now use this delay to reconsider. His lawyer, Nathan Chambers, will only say he is still thinking it over.

This city has put itself back together. If anything, we're stronger than ever

"I can only tell you that he is committed to examining this situation carefully and thoughtfully," he said.

"He is not someone who's given to rash decisions. And, together with us, he'll make a decision as to how he wants to proceed."

At Oklahoma's Southern Hills Baptist Church, Dr Paul Heath has much to be grateful for - surviving the April 1995 blast virtually unscathed.

He says that whatever happens to Timothy McVeigh, the city will cope:

"The emotional scars will last for ever, for those of us who are emotionally scarred by it.

"But this city has put itself back together. If anything, my own opinion is that, as a city, we're stronger than ever."

But there is no doubt that most people in this city do want to see Timothy McVeigh die - and sooner rather than later.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

13 May 01 | Americas
'No more delay' in McVeigh execution
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories