McVeigh called `delusional,' `suicidal' for suggesting public execution

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

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Relatives of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing on Sunday rebuked Timothy McVeigh's suggestion that federal prison officials publicly broadcast his execution.

"Are citizens going to see this sitting in a bar?" asked Tom Kight, whose daughter, Frankie Merrell, died in the April 19, 1995, explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

"What about the people who follow him, the right-wing anti-government people? I think Tim would like to go out a martyr."

A May 16 execution date has been set for McVeigh at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.

The 32-year-old McVeigh wrote a letter to The Daily Oklahoman suggesting that in order for all victims of the bombing to have fair access, "a reasonable solution seems obvious: hold a true 'public' execution -- allow a public broadcast."

McVeigh wrote the letter in response to a lawsuit filed by eight survivors and members of victim's families asking for a closed-circuit telecast of McVeigh's execution.

Survivors and victims' family members had the option to watch McVeigh's trial on a closed-circuit television in an auditorium at the Federal Aviation Administration center in Oklahoma City.

"It has ... been said that all of Oklahoma was a victim of the bombing. Can all of Oklahoma watch?" he wrote in a Feb. 1 letter to The Daily Oklahoman.

Priscilla Salyers, who worked on the fifth floor of the building, saw some closed-circuit testimony. She also attended the trial in Denver.

"It was almost surreal," Salyers said. "It was like watching television, but a little distorted. I was not able to focus in and see facial expressions."

Salyers has applied to view the execution in Terre Haute. She would be willing to watch a closed circuit feed, she said.

Paul Heath, a psychologist who worked for the Veterans Administration on the fifth floor, said he was concerned about McVeigh seeing himself as a hero.

"I believe he is a delusional revolutionary who believes he is Earl Turner," Heath said, referring to the main character of the anti-government book, "The Turner Diaries." A copy of the book was in McVeigh's car when he was arrested.

Although Heath was involved in starting the process to allow a closed-circuit telecast of the execution, he said he vehemently is opposed to a public telecast.

"I would withdraw all eight names off the petition to keep the execution off television," he said.

Bud Welch, whose daughter, Julie, was killed in the bombing, said he thinks that McVeigh is suicidal and that the execution would be similar to assisted suicide. Welch in recent years has become a vocal opponent of the death penalty.

"He is obviously not of a stable mind, and I think we can all agree on that," Welch said.

Darlene Welch, who is not related to Bud Welch, said she would like to attend McVeigh's execution.

"Personally, I want to see his dead body."

Officials with The Federal Bureau of Prisons are reviewing requests for closed-circuit telecast of the execution at the FAA center or in Terre Haute.

A bureau spokesman said a national broadcast of the execution has not been discussed.

"It hasn't even been considered. It won't happen," bureau spokesman Dan Dunne said.