VanPac News History

Copyright 1991 The Times Mirror Company  
Los Angeles Times

June 27, 1991, Thursday, Southland Edition

SECTION: Part A; Page 15; Column 5; National Desk

LENGTH: 435 words


BYLINE: From Associated Press



The man accused of sending mail bombs that killed a judge and a lawyer declared a cowardly terrorist war on the court system because he could not overturn a 1972 conviction, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

"That's the driving force behind these crimes," Assistant U.S. Atty. Louis Freeh said in closing arguments at the trial of Walter Leroy Moody Jr. "Retaliation is a way of life for Mr. Moody, and the court was only his last target. A deadly target."

Defense attorney Edward Tolley said the prosecution's case was largely circumstantial, offering no solid proof that Moody was guilty.

"Despite the mountain of evidence in this case, there is no evidence Walter Leroy Moody deposited these bombs in a mailbox," Tolley said.

Moody, of Rex, Ga., is charged in a 71-count federal indictment with mailing the bombs that killed U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Vance at his home in Mountain Brook, Ala., and civil rights attorney Robert E. Robinson in Savannah, Ga., in December, 1989.

He became a suspect when investigators found similarities between a Bomb that went off in Moody's house in 1972 and the 1989 bombings. Moody was convicted of pipe-Bomb possession in the earlier case.

U.S. District Judge Edward Devitt said the jury would get the case today.

So ruthless was the 57-year-old Moody, Freeh said, that he killed Robinson and mailed other bombs to NAACP offices in Jacksonville, Fla., and Atlanta to make it appear that the crimes were committed for racial reasons.

The primary targets were Vance and the Atlanta-based U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where one of Moody's mail bombs was intercepted, the prosecutor said.

"He blew that man to pieces as a diversion," Freeh said of the Robinson killing. "He was thinking ahead, playing chess with the government."

The prosecutor said Moody, a self-described inventor, literary consultant and publisher, hates blacks partly because he thought they received preferential treatment in the courts.

But he said Moody was not an ideological racist and considered himself "too good, too clever" to belong to a group such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Freeh said Vance was a perfect target because he had ruled in favor of blacks in a school desegregation case, saying their 20-year-old claim was not outdated.

Moody read Vance's opinion shortly after his appeal of his 1972 conviction for pipe-Bomb possession was rejected in June, 1989, by the 11th Circuit. The reason, Freeh said, was that the case was too old.

"You could imagine how he felt," Freeh said. "When that failed in 1989, Mr. Moody declared war against the courts. It's that simple."

Louis Freeh