Attorney makes request for closed-circuit television

Wednesday, February 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An attorney working on behalf of survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing has filed a formal request with the government to have Timothy McVeigh's execution shown on closed-circuit television.

McVeigh is to die by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on May 16 for the bombing of the Alfred P.

Murrah Federal Building. The explosion on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people and injured more than 500.

Attorney Karen Howick said Wednesday she has formally asked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to show the execution in Oklahoma City to the 250 bombing survivors or relatives of victims who have requested to see it.

Only eight seats are available for victim witnesses in the death chamber at the federal penitentiary.

Howick said federal officials seem to be leaning toward having a closed-circuit telecast for victims in Terre Haute, rather than in Oklahoma City.

"I don't know that it's likely in Oklahoma City," she said, citing discussions with officials and others following the closed-circuit issue.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne refused Wednesday to discuss the criteria being used to decide whether to allow a closed-circuit broadcast.

He said it's doubtful a decision would come this week since McVeigh has until Friday to request clemency from President Bush.

Howick said that if the government doesn't honor her request, she would consider a lawsuit.

"There's just a whole lot of precedent there that can be a roadmap for how this can be accomplished," she said.

Howick said the security concerns about the telecast would be the same in Oklahoma City as in Terre Haute.

"I don't see any reason why transmitting it over closed-circuit to Terre Haute is any different than transmitting it to Oklahoma City," Howick said.

She said the Federal Aviation Administration center where the Denver trials of McVeigh and bombing conspirator Terry Nichols were transmitted to survivors and victims could again be the site for a telecast of the execution.

She said an auditorium in the state Capitol could also host the telecast.

Howick said there is a federal ban on cameras in the execution chamber. But there hasn't been a federal execution since 1963, and she said more recent state laws guaranteeing victims' families a right to witness an execution -- even if by camera -- should weigh more heavily in the decision on a closed-circuit telecast.

Several states, including Oklahoma, have shown executions on closed-circuit television at prisons where the executions were held. These telecasts have been to small groups of victims or family members who couldn't fit into execution chambers.