OKLAHOMA CITY Timothy McVeigh's date with death is now only four months away.
Federal authorities announced Tuesday the decorated Persian Gulf war veteran will die by injection May 16 almost exactly 73 months after he detonated a truck bomb at the doorstep of the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people. Nineteen of those killed were children.
"If there is any individual who deserves the ultimate punishment, it is Timothy McVeigh," said Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating. "(He) forfeited his life the moment he detonated that deadly cargo he had brought to downtown Oklahoma City."
McVeigh, 32, recently abandoned the second and final round of appeals of his June 1997 murder and conspiracy convictions and death sentence.
A court-imposed deadline for changing his mind passed Thursday without the lanky, crew-cut McVeigh seeking to jump-start his appeals.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons reported Tuesday that it notified McVeigh in writing that it had scheduled the lethal injection for May 16. It would be the federal government's first execution in more than 37 years.
McVeigh offered no explanation for his decision to drop his remaining appeals, but did reserve the right to seek executive clemency, a move that could result in commuting his death sentence to life in prison.
Nathan Chambers, a Denver attorney who represented McVeigh on appeal, said his client has 30 days to seek clemency through the Justice Department's Office of Pardon Attorney, which then would make a recommendation to President-elect George W. Bush.
In Bush's six years as Texas governor, he gave clemency to only one inmate while the state executed more than 150 others.
McVeigh was convicted of masterminding the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.