Tags: Church | Bombing | Trial | Begins | Alabama

Church Bombing Trial Begins in Alabama

Tuesday, 14 May 2002 12:00 AM

In his opening statement in the trial of Cherry, prosecutor Robert Posey said the 71-year-old former Klansman boasted of planting the bomb at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

"He has worn this crime on his chest like a badge of honor, like a Klan medal," Posey told jurors.

Cherry is charged with four counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collin. The girls, whose ages ranged from 11 to 14, were killed as they were preparing for Sunday school.

If convicted, Cherry could be sentenced to life in prison.

Sixteen people, including four alternates, were chosen to hear the trial, which is expected to last about three weeks. Circuit Judge James Garrett has sequestered the jury panel, which includes nine white women, three white men and four black men.

The Rev. Abraham Woods Jr., president of the Birmingham chapter of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said he was upset about the jury composition because the victims were black and female.

"I think it is a legitimate concern that there are no black females at all on the jury," Woods said.

In his statement, defense lawyer Mickey Johnson said Cherry never took blame for the bombing. He said prosecutors were basing the claim on witnesses who are not reliable as part of an effort to "build this case around Bobby Cherry.

"Everybody escaped this net but Bobby Cherry. He's the only one under the net right now," Johnson said.

The mother of one of the victims told jurors that her 14-year-old daughter, Carole Robertson, was wearing a new white dress on the day of the bombing. She said she was at home when she heard the explosion at the church.

Cherry's trial was delayed last year after doubts over whether he was mentally capable of aiding his defense. His attorney said he was not sure whether Cherry would testify in his trial.

Two other men have been convicted in the bombing. Co-defendant Thomas Blanton Jr. was convicted by jurors last year but is appealing the verdict and his life sentence. He claims prosecutors deliberately kept white males off his jury.

Robert Chambliss was convicted in 1977 and died in prison. A fourth suspect, Herman Cash, died in 1994 without having been charged.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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In his opening statement in the trial of Cherry, prosecutor Robert Posey said the 71-year-old former Klansman boasted of planting the bomb at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. He has worn this crime on his chest like a badge of honor, like a Klan medal, ...
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Tuesday, 14 May 2002 12:00 AM
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