Tags: Church | Bombing | Trial | 'Cockroach' | Goes | Jury

Church Bombing Trial of 'Cockroach' Goes to Jury

Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM

The jury got the case shortly after 3:30 p.m. CDT.

In closing arguments the prosecution said there was plenty of evidence to convict. The defense said there was none.

Prosecutor Don Cochran told jurors that the bombing was an act of hatred and that justice was long overdue after nearly four decades.

Cochran said Cherry and other Ku Klux Klan members set the bomb at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in what he called deadliest act of the civil rights movement.

He said Cherry had mocked justice for 39 years. Cochran called for justice.

Defense attorney Mickey Johnson said Cherry, a 71-year-old retired trucker from Mabank, Texas, had no connection to the bombing. He said the case was based on lies, his membership in the Ku Klux Klan and his friendships with other members.

"We are not going to let the state convict purely on guilt by association," Johnson said.

Johnson said he understood that the jurors might object to Cherry because he was a member of the Klan, but he said that was not a reason for a conviction.

"This is an easy man to prosecute, because he is the human equivalent to a cockroach," Johnson said.

During testimony, the prosecution produced witnesses who said Cherry bragged of the bombing. The defense called relatives and friends who said he did not. 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. He is free on bail.

Cherry's trial was delayed last year after doubts over whether he was mentally capable of aiding his defense. He did not testify during the trial.

Two other men have been convicted in the bombing. Co-defendant Thomas Blanton Jr. was convicted last year and is appealing the verdict and his life sentence. He claims prosecutors deliberately kept white men off his jury. Cherry's jury has no black females.

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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The jury got the case shortly after 3:30 p.m. CDT. In closing arguments the prosecution said there was plenty of evidence to convict. The defense said there was none. Prosecutor Don Cochran told jurors that the bombing was an act of hatred and that justice was long...
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2002-00-21
Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM
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