McVeigh will get chance to ask for stay

Tuesday, April 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Timothy McVeigh's last chance to ask for a stay of execution will be two hours before he's scheduled to die, when he will be allowed to meet with his lawyers for the last time.

Justice Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity Monday, described parts of an elaborate process to handle any last-minute legal interruptions of McVeigh's execution, scheduled for May 16 at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

McVeigh was sentenced to die for the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people.

Visits by family members and attorneys will be curtailed two hours ahead of the execution, officials said. If McVeigh wants his lawyers to ask a judge or the president for a stay, he must do so at that final meeting. Prison officials won't consider a request for a delay by McVeigh after that, officials said.

Prison officials at the execution command center, set up at the Terre Haute prison to coordinate security among state, federal and local law enforcement agencies and handle all procedural matters, will make last-minute phone calls to the White House and check with several courts to see whether McVeigh's lawyers have filed any requests to stop the execution.

Calls will go out to the White House and the courts 45 minutes before the execution; the last ones will be made with 10 minutes to go. Officials overseeing the execution can also be reached in the execution room _ up to the moment that the executioner is to administer the lethal injection _ if a delay is ordered.

According to an ``Execution Protocol'' manual written by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. marshal assigned to the execution room ``will instruct the Executioner(s) to step away from the execution equipment and will notify the condemned individual and all present that the execution has been stayed or delayed.''

McVeigh ordered his attorneys not to file further appeals in January and asked that a date be set for his execution. But he could still seek clemency from the White House or instruct his lawyers to seek a stay.

The government has not executed a federal prisoner in 37 years. Procedures for handling federal executions have recently been finalized and will applied for the first time in the McVeigh execution.