McVEIGH tells newspaper there was never a John Doe No. 2

Tuesday, May 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOUSTON (AP) _ Timothy McVeigh, whose execution is on hold while his attorneys examine thousands of documents the FBI failed to turn over about the Oklahoma City bombing, says there was never a ``John Doe No. 2,'' a published report says.

McVeigh wrote the letter to the Houston Chronicle May 2 in response to a reporter's request for a response to former defense attorney Stephen Jones' allegations that McVeigh inflated his role in the April 19, 1995, blast that killed 168 people, including 19 children.

Jones has argued that McVeigh was the tool of a larger group of conspirators.

The single-page letter was written a week before the FBI said it had found 3,135 documents about the investigation.

``Jones has been thoroughly discredited, so I'm not going to break a sweat refuting his outlandish claims point-by-point,'' McVeigh wrote in the letter mailed from the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. ``The truth is on my side.''

``And last, does anyone honestly believe that if there was a John Doe 2 (there is not), that Stephen Jones would still be alive? ... Think about it,'' McVeigh wrote.

Legal experts told the newspaper that McVeigh's statement could weaken any argument his attorneys might make to try to get a new trial on the possible existence of other conspirators.

Robert Pugsley, a constitutional law expert at Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, said the statement from McVeigh doesn't help the defense.

If the theory is that the new documents might contain leads to others involved with McVeigh as accomplices, McVeigh's words are at odds with the position his attorneys might take, Pugsley said.

He said McVeigh has ambushed his attorneys with his statement.

``Well, I bet he wishes now he'd followed my advice and kept his mouth shut,'' Jones said. ``And I bet he wishes he'd followed (appellate attorney) Nathan Chambers' advice and not dismissed those appeals.''

McVeigh, 33, was scheduled to die Wednesday for the bombing. The execution has been delayed until June 11.

Defense attorney Robert Nigh of Tulsa told the newspaper that he could not comment on McVeigh's statement or on whether it would hamper any efforts to seek a new trial based on the newly revealed evidence.

Jones said the defense team pursued John Doe No. 2 aggressively.

``Our defense at trial was the John Doe No. 2 was killed in the explosion,'' he said.

The newspaper said McVeigh took another swipe at Jones' pursuit of other conspirators by including a copy of a letter a woman named Smiley wrote him asking if Elvis was involved in the bombing.

McVeigh attached a pre-pasted note to the woman's odd letter and wrote: ``Jones and Smiley, kindred spirits.''

``I never entered this to be a popularity case, so if Tim doesn't like me, I'm sorry,'' Jones said. ``I was right (that) the government was withholding things, and I was right (that) Tim should have kept his mouth shut. But not everybody has the strength to admit they've made a mistake, even when their life is at issue,'' Jones said.