Feds File Brief Opposing Stay of McVeigh Execution

Federal prosecutors in Denver have filed a brief opposing Timothy McVeigh's request for a stay of execution, saying newly discovered FBI documents have nothing in them that would overturn the Oklahoma City bomber's murder conviction.

"Timothy McVeigh does not and could not suggest he is actually innocent of the charges of which the jury convicted him," wrote prosecutor Sean Connelly. "He does not and could not suggest the death penalty is unwarranted for his exceptionally aggravated crimes."

Connelly said it would be a mistake to delay the execution so McVeigh's attorney may continue a "post-conviction, publicly funded investigation that contradicts McVeigh's own recent admissions that he and Terry Nichols acted alone.

"McVeigh is undeniably guilty and there is no case in which the death sentence can be more appropriate than this one," Connelly wrote.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, five days before McVeigh's scheduled June 11 execution for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Matsch sealed a portion of the government's filing, which contained some documents previously sealed by the courts.

Last week, McVeigh asked Matsch to delay his execution, accusing the government of withholding evidence that denied him a fair trial. He alleged federal prosecutors committed a "fraud upon the court," and contended some of the evidence may have been "intentionally destroyed" or not documented.

In his brief, Connelly said McVeigh could not receive a new trial unless he had strong evidence of his innocence, based on the anti-terrorism law under which he was convicted.

McVeigh has identified nine items he claims could have helped his defense, but none prove his innocence, Connelly said.

"Rather than answer for his own proven and admitted murderous conduct, McVeigh would like to put the federal government on trial," he wrote.

McVeigh was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

McVeigh, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., had dropped appeals and faced lethal injection May 16. But just a few days before he was to die, the Justice Department began turning over more than 4,400 pages and 11 CDs of FBI material that should have been given to McVeigh's defense before his 1997 trial.

Defense attorney Richard Burr said last week his client decided to seek a stay because he "has been deeply concerned about the overreaching of federal law enforcement authorities" and thought the last-minute disclosure of the documents overrode his earlier decision not to fight execution.

Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed McVeigh's execution until June 11, but has said he will oppose additional delays.

In a related development Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a ruling in Terry Nichols' request for a new trial, saying the government must first respond to his assertion that mishandled evidence in McVeigh's case adversely affected him.

Nichols, 46, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy. He was acquitted on federal charges of first- and second-degree murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.