Suspect charged in mail-bomb slayings

November 08, 1990|By Newsday

WASHINGTON -- A Georgia ex-convict allegedly angry at the actions of a federal judge and a Savannah, Ga., civil rights attorney has been charged in their bombing deaths last December.

The Department of Justice announced yesterday that Walter Leroy Moody Jr. -- a suspect almost from the outset of the federal investigation -- was charged with manufacturing and mailing the bombs that appeared to be Christmas packages.

One of the nail-laden devices exploded in the suburban Birmingham, Ala., kitchen of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert S. Vance on Dec. 16, killing Vance and severely injuring his wife.

A similar bomb killed Savannah Alderman Robert E. Robinson on Dec. 18, after it was mailed to his office. Robinson had served as a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The 70-count indictment carries the possibility of seven different life prison terms, plus 395 years. Moody has not yet entered a plea.

The indictment also charges Moody, 56, with mailing similar pipe bombs to the federal courthouse in Atlanta and the NAACP headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla. Both were defused before they went off.

Moody was also charged with sending a tear-gas bomb that went off in the NAACP offices in Atlanta in August 1989, and with mailing dozens of threatening letters to federal judges and television stations.

In announcing the indictment yesterday, Attorney General Richard Thornburgh declined to explain Moody's alleged motivation, but the indictment charges that it was, at least partially, racial.

NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Hooks applauded Moody's indictment. "Sadly, there seems to be an atmosphere which encourages some people, inflamed with anger and bitterness at what we stand for, to resort to violence in a futile and misguided effort to silence us."

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