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Hundreds want to see McVeigh die

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Constance Favorite offers a half-serious suggestion for how to accommodate the 250 people who want to watch Timothy McVeigh's execution: Hold it in the middle of an Oklahoma field.

Favorite says she wouldn't look, but she would be there for the sake of her daughter Lakesha Levy, a 21-year-old Air Force airman who was among the 168 people killed in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

"To see it happen is not the important thing to me," Favorite says. "It's not anything that I need for myself. Let the people see if that's what they need to heal."

The New Orleans woman is among the hundreds of victims and family members who have notified the government they want to watch the Oklahoma City bomber die on May 16 — so many people, in fact, that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is considering showing the execution on closed-circuit television.

The execution chamber at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where McVeigh will receive a lethal injection has room for only eight witnesses representing the victims.

Some feel a strong need to see McVeigh take his last breath.

"I'd like to go to Indiana" and witness the execution in person, says Kathleen Treanor, whose 4-year-old daughter and in-laws died in the bombing. "But what are my chances? I'm not setting my expectations too high. As long as I get to view it, I'm a happy camper. To see it happen is going to help me realize that this is over."

McVeigh, 32, dropped all appeals last month without explanation. And last week he let the deadline pass for asking President Bush to spare his life, saying through a lawyer that it would have been a futile gesture.

That appeared to clear the way for the first execution by the federal government since 1963.

Several states have shown executions on closed-circuit television to small groups of people gathered near where the executions were held. The federal government has never done so.

Officials have not decided whether they would show the closed-circuit broadcast in Terre Haute or Oklahoma City, spokeswoman Linda Smith says. But she says officials have rejected McVeigh's suggestion, made in a letter to a newspaper, that the execution be broadcast nationally.

Martha Ridley, whose daughter was killed in the attack, is disgusted by the idea.

"He's so ego-tripping," she says. "He wants to make a martyr out of himself. If they broadcast it publicly, if they did it nationally, they would play right into Mr. Timothy McVeigh's hands."

Ridley is raising her 6- and 10-year-old granddaughters, who lost their mother, Kathryn Ridley, in the truck bombing. "He's been living six years longer than those people he took care of with that bomb," she says.

Jannie Coverdale, whose two grandsons died in the blast, says she would like to see the execution on closed-circuit TV.

Coverdale says she fears that while McVeigh is alive, he can teach his anti-government beliefs to fellow inmates.

"I don't believe in revenge," she says. "I don't hate him. But I don't trust him at all. He's just as dangerous in prison as he would be out of prison."

Among the more than 1,000 victims' relatives and survivors, there is just one who has said publicly that the government should spare McVeigh's life.

Bud Welch's 23-year-old daughter, Julie, died in the Murrah building, where she worked as a Spanish-English translator for the Social Security Administration. Welch, who is Catholic, says his daughter was against the death penalty. And he says he is convinced McVeigh is suicidal.

"The day we kill him, we've assisted suicide," Welch says.