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Don't Make McVeigh Martyr, Lawyers Urge Feds Battle Defense Tactic

John Parker Published: June 11, 1997

BIOG: NAME: UPD: 19970611 -TEXT-

DENVER - Defense attorneys want to warn jurors that a federal execution of convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh could create a political martyr. But prosecutors said the argument should not be allowed as a reason to spare McVeigh's life.

The defense seems to be implying a "danger that some misguided criminals might wreak more violence on society to retaliate for a federal death verdict," prosecutors complained Tuesday in a court filing.

"The court should not countenance, much less affirmatively convey, any such suggestion," prosecutors wrote.

McVeigh, 29, was found guilty June 2 of bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, resulted in at least 168 deaths. Jurors soon will consider McVeigh's sentence.

Defense attorneys also claimed to U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch that jurors should be able to consider that a federal execution is not "in the national interest for domestic tranquility."

"The execution of Timothy McVeigh by the federal government would tend to make him a political martyr in certain political groups," attorneys contend.

Matsch will resolve the dispute before jurors are given legal instructions about their sentencing deliberations. They may begin deliberations as early as today.

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