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Ashcroft Meets Okla. Bombing Victims

April 10, 2001

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday he would decide this week whether to show Timothy McVeigh’s execution on closed-circuit television to Oklahoma City bombing survivors and victims’ families.

Paul Heath, a retired Veterans Administration psychologist and bombing survivor, said Ashcroft made no promises but said he would try to grant their request to watch McVeigh die.

``He listened with his heart,″ Heath said. ``He heard a story that’s hard to hear. We told a story that’s hard to tell. He assured us that within the limits of the law, a policy would be developed that would accommodate for this unique event.″

Ashcroft met with about 100 survivors and relatives after a visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. About 250 survivors and family members relatives have said they want to watch the execution of McVeigh, who was convicted of eight federal murder charges.

McVeigh, 32, is to die by injection on May 16 at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Only eight places are available for execution observers at the penitentiary.

``I am going to do my best to respect their needs and their wishes in ways that are consistent with the fulfillment of responsibilities to carry out justice,″ Ashcroft said before meeting with the victims.

After his tour of the memorial Tuesday, Ashcroft spoke near a tree that was damaged but survived the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people and wounded more than 500.

``After completing the tour of this memorial, I am once again shocked by what happened in this place,″ he said.

Jannie Coverdale, whose two grandsons were killed, said she thought Ashcroft was leaning toward having a telecast at one location and she said it would be better to have it in Oklahoma City.

``I really think we will get closed-circuit TV,″ she said. ``I want to see the end of Timothy McVeigh. I don’t think it’s hatred. I’m tired of being angry, I’m tired of crying.″

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