Just days before McVeigh's scheduled execution by lethal injection, the government admitted that the FBI withheld evidence from his legal team. Although Attorney General John Ashcroft said he does not believe that the reams of evidence can raise doubts about McVeigh's guilt, he decided to postpone the execution until June 11 to give defense lawyers a chance to study the new evidence.
"It is my responsibility to promote the sanctity of rule of law and justice," Ashcroft said at a Friday news conference announcing the delay, intended to give McVeigh's attorneys "ample and adequate time" to review the evidence.
The stay may also revive the stalled efforts to Webcast the execution.
David Marshlack, whose company, Entertainment Network, was citing the First Amendment to win the right to Webcast the McVeigh death for a fee, told CNET News.com earlier Friday that his company is ready to set the appeals process rolling again after it decided earlier this month that it did not have enough time to present a strong case. The execution was scheduled for May 16.
"We will definitely revisit it once we know if (the government is) going to put a stay on it or not," Marshlack said early Friday. "If they do put a stay on it, we will see if our lawyers say we have enough time to file an appeal."
Marshlack said his company has only 30 days to file a notice of appeal from the time of the U.S. District Court?s decision. The court ruled April 18 that a Federal Bureau of Prisons policy regulating the viewing of executions did not violate Entertainment Network's First Amendment rights.
The company had planned to appeal that decision either to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Marshlack decided against continuing the process, saying his company did not have sufficient time to mount an effective appeal before the execution.
McVeigh was given the death penalty after being convicted of killing 168 people in the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City six years ago.