Reaction mixed after McVeigh execution

Ruth Hitchcock

Closure came to the Oklahoma City bombing case at 7:14 a.m. Monday when Timothy McVeigh was declared dead in Terra Haute, Ind.

Six years ago, 168 people died when McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building.

A crowd of 232 survivors and victims’ relatives viewed his execution on closed-circuit television in Oklahoma City while others chose to acknowledge McVeigh’s execution at the bombing site memorial.

Rep. Barbara Finch, R-Ames, had a mixed reaction to the execution.

“For such a heinous crime, I understand the reason for the death penalty,” Finch said. “[McVeigh] had no compassion.”

She said while Iowa does not use capital punishment, Iowa’s representatives can’t second-guess what other states or the federal government have decided about this punishment.

Rev. Terry Rasmussen of St. Cecilia Church is opposed to the death penalty.

“It’s just adding one more death to deaths that have already taken place,” he said. “It’s considered barbaric by most countries.”

Rasmussen said another reason that he is against capital punishment is because innocent people have been executed.

He said more minorities are on death row, possibly indicating a lack of justice.

Rasmussen said the Bible clearly states that the death penalty is wrong in the Ten Commandments found in Deuteronomy.

“Thee shall not kill,” he quoted from the Bible.

“Forgiveness has got to be the way to go, no matter how much we’ve been hurt or how much pain has been caused,” he said.

He said while an execution may be a relief for some survivors and victims’ loved ones, others are only more upset by use of the death penalty.

Finch agreed that this execution will help some, but hurt others.

“My prayers go out to his parents,” Finch said.

Dick Haws, associate professor of journalism, said McVeigh was the first federal prisoner to be executed since 1963.

Haws is writing a book about the history of the death penalty in Iowa.

He said the last federal execution was carried out at the state penitentiary in Fort Madison when Victor Feguer was hung for kidnapping and murdering a Dubuque physician.

Haws said there are several reasons why the federal government uses capital punishment.

“They see it as retribution… as a guarantee that this person will never commit a heinous act again,” he said.

He said few statistics support the idea that the death penalty prevents murder; murder rates are higher in states with the death penalty.

“I don’t think the government should be in the business of killing human beings,” Haws said. “I see the government committing the same kind of act that the criminal committed.”