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MCVEIGH moved to holding cell near death chamber as execution nears

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) _ About 27 hours before his scheduled execution, Timothy McVeigh was moved to a holding cell near the chamber where he will be put to death.

The Oklahoma City bomber was transferred from his 8- by 10-foot cell at the U.S. Penitentiary to the holding cell at 4:10 a.m., according to a Bureau of Prisons news release. He was secured in the cell at 4:30 a.m. McVeigh was cooperative and the move was without incident, officials said.

McVeigh, 33, is scheduled to die by chemical injection at 8 a.m. EDT Monday, the first person to be put to death by the federal government since 1963.

McVeigh wrote in a recent letter that he will die blaming the federal government for his actions.

In excerpts from letters to The Buffalo News released Saturday, McVeigh said he was sorry 168 people died when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, but insisted the bombing was necessary to send a message to what he called an out-of-control government.

``I am sorry these people had to lose their lives,'' McVeigh wrote his hometown newspaper. ``But that's the nature of the beast. It's understood going in what the human toll will be.''

He referred to the April 19, 1995, bombing as ``a legit tactic'' in his war against the government.

In Washington, an appeal was filed Saturday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to allow McVeigh's execution to be videotaped, part of an unrelated case alleging the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. The Justice Department opposed the move in a filing delivered to the high court Saturday night.

McVeigh's lawyers had wanted more time to review the nearly 4,500 pages of belatedly released FBI documents that caused the bomber's original May 16 execution date to be delayed. But their request for a stay was turned down last week by U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch in Denver and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

McVeigh then abandoned efforts to receive a stay. Attorney Chris Tritico said McVeigh gave up because he was convinced the Supreme Court wouldn't grant it after the two lower courts turned him down.

``I don't view that as 'I want to die,' '' Tritico said outside the federal prison. ``I view that as a realization that 'I'm going nowhere with this process, so let's stop doing it.'''

A friend who traveled to Terre Haute at McVeigh's request said Saturday that McVeigh would have chosen a different target had he known a day care center was in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

McVeigh, a Gulf War veteran, had called the children ``collateral damage'' in a book about the bombing written by the two Buffalo News reporters who received the recent letters.

``I do believe he has remorse about the innocent people and particularly the children that died in the bombing,'' said Bob Papovich, who lives about three miles from convicted bombing conspirator Terry Nichols' farm in Michigan, where McVeigh lived at one time.

``Had he known there was a day care center, contrary to what has been reported, he would have chose another target, there's no doubt in my mind,'' Papovich said.

Tritico said McVeigh has not asked to have a spiritual adviser, but a priest at a Catholic church near the prison said the convicted bomber has asked that a passage be read for him during a Sunday evening service.

Father Ron Ashmore would not say what the passage is, but said the service would be broadcast on local radio and that he hoped McVeigh would listen. Prison officials said McVeigh would not have access to a radio by that time, however.

During the service, a piece written by a Los Angeles composer _ a 12-minute musical ``prequiem'' the composer hopes will escort McVeigh's soul to heaven _ will be played.

Papovich said McVeigh will be ready when the execution process begins.

``Tim has no fear whatsoever,'' said Papovich, who has corresponded with McVeigh by mail and over the phone since he's been in prison. ``He's been prepared for this for sometime. He's very businesslike.''

Tritico spoke of his client, whom he described as a friend, in ways that contrast sharply with the image America has come to know.

``When I first went to the prison to meet him I expected to meet this seething government-hater who couldn't talk about anything but the government,'' the lawyer recalled.

``What I met was this young man who was friendly, easy to get along with and extremely intelligent and easy to work with.''

McVeigh had selected five people to view his execution _ Lou Michel, one of the Buffalo News reporters; defense attorneys Rob Nigh and Nathan Chambers; Cate McCauley, a former defense team member; and novelist Gore Vidal.

On Friday, Vidal announced he could not attend. Prison officials said Saturday that McVeigh would not be permitted to choose a replacement, since his list had to be submitted 30 days before the execution.
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