McVeigh objects to autopsies for federal death row inmates

Friday, September 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has joined the protest over an Indiana coroner's decision to have federal death-row inmates examined in autopsies after execution.

McVeigh wrote the Terre Haute (Ind.) Tribune-Star a letter dated Sunday, complaining he and other condemned prisoners oppose autopsies "for reasons ranging from the principle of the matter, unnecessary mutilation, to religious, practical, and/or ethical concerns."

McVeigh did not say why he personally opposes an autopsy. He could not be reached for comment in the U.S. Penitentiary, Terre Haute. His attorney, Robert Nigh, also could not be reached for comment. Prison officials have verified McVeigh wrote the letter.

In June, fellow death-row inmate David Paul Hammer said having an autopsy conducted on his body went against his religious and moral beliefs. Hammer has asked to end his appeals and be executed.

McVeigh was convicted of murder, conspiracy and weapons-related charges and sentenced to death for the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast resulted in 168 deaths.

McVeigh has appealed his conviction and is being held on death row in the Indiana prison.

Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos has said the medical procedure can benefit family members of the inmate by informing them about any hereditary disease from which the inmate suffered.

The coroner also has said autopsy results could be used to defend any lawsuits that might be filed by death-row inmates who allege mistreatment or abuse before being executed.

McVeigh, in his letter, accused the coroner of "closed-minded arrogance." He challenged that Amos' reasons for an autopsy are "less than clear or convincing." She "is insisting on these autopsies for reasons that smack of weak excuses to justify some other agenda (something to tell the grandkids about, maybe?),"

McVeigh wrote.

Amos said she has no agenda, including future storytelling.

"I can come up with a lot more interesting tales than anything that might come out of autopsies from the federal prison," she said.

Jannie Coverdale, whose two grandchildren were killed in the bombing, said McVeigh's concerns are misdirected.

"Really, I think Timothy McVeigh should be more concerned about where his soul is going once he is executed, instead of being autopsied," Coverdale said.