DENVER — – Prison officials started making plans Friday for the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, including how to accommodate victims who may want to watch.
McVeigh, held on death row at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., let the deadline for pursuing any appeals to pass Thursday, while reserving the right to seek clemency from the president. Last month, a federal judge agreed to let him drop all appeals and receive a prompt execution date.
The 32-year-old Gulf War veteran could be executed by lethal injection as early as May. Inmates typically are given four months' notice of an execution date.
U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne said the agency will not set a date until officials are confident they will have adequate staff and will be able to meet needs of victims' relatives and survivors of the blast, the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil.
"The number of victims involved in this case certainly is unique. Other cases don't have the same notoriety, and obviously there are things we have to consider for planning," Dunne said.
McVeigh was convicted of murder and conspiracy in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people and wounded more than 500.
The federal government has not executed a prisoner in 37 years.
Under bureau guidelines, 10 seats in the Terre Haute execution chamber are reserved for news media representatives, eight for victims and other citizen witnesses, six for those selected by the inmate and eight chosen by the Justice Department.
Karen Howick of Oklahoma City, an attorney who has represented victims' relatives and survivors, said she may go to court to ensure the execution is broadcast on closed-circuit television for those who are not allowed to be there in person.
Howick, who successfully lobbied Congress to allow McVeigh's Denver trial to be broadcast in an Oklahoma courtroom for victims' relatives, believes more than eight victims will want to watch.
"I would not want to be the person to say, `You get to attend and you don't.' No matter how they do this, someone is going to be unhappy," Howick said.
Jim Denny, whose two young children survived, said he has no desire to watch McVeigh die. "I know there are some people who want to watch it, but it won't bring closure to anyone," he said.