Timothy McVeigh's death penalty lawyers to speak at Cornell Law School Nov. 14

Attorneys Richard Burr and Mandy Welch, who six months ago pleaded for Timothy McVeigh's life in the death penalty phase of the Oklahoma City bombing trial, will speak at the Cornell University Law School Nov. 14.

Their presentation, "Defending McVeigh's Life: A Conversation with Timothy McVeigh's Lawyers," will begin at 3 p.m. in the MacDonald Moot Courtroom of Myron Taylor Hall. It is sponsored by the Cornell Death Penalty Project and is free and open to the public.

McVeigh was found guilty June 2 on charges of murder and conspiracy for his role in the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history -- the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people. On June 13, a seven-man, five-woman jury sentenced McVeigh to death by lethal injection. The jury reached its unanimous verdict after 11 hours of deliberation.

In his closing arguments of the trial's sentencing phase, Burr said: "We all bear some responsibility for Oklahoma City. We should not feel a clear conscience if we kill Tim McVeigh. That is why we ask for a life sentence without possibility of parole."

Burr and Welch specialize in death penalty defenses and have several U.S. Supreme Court victories to their credit. Burr formerly served as litigation director of the Texas Defender Service, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation for indigents in capital cases. He also served as the director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York. Before going into private practice, Welch served as legal director of the Texas Defender Service from 1995 to 1996. In 1994 she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and successfully challenged a federal district court's refusal to stay the execution of an underrepresented Texas death row inmate who was seeking appointment of counsel to represent him in a federal habeas corpus proceeding.

The Cornell Death Penalty Project is a new program at the Cornell Law School that provides assistance and expertise to defense counsel in capital cases, conducts research on the death penalty and provides students with experience in capital cases.

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