VanPac News History

Copyright 1991 Gannett Company Inc.  

June 27, 1991, Thursday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 487 words

HEADLINE: Mail-Bomb case in jury's hands

BYLINE: Kevin T. McGee



After 17 days of having his character battered by the prosecution, smeared by acquaintances and presenting himself as his only defense witness, Walter Leroy Moody today leaves his fate to a jury.

Jurors today begin deliberating 71 counts against Moody, charged with the 1989 racially motivated mail-Bomb deaths of 11th U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Vance of Mountain Brook, Ala., and civil rights lawyer Robert Robinson, a Savannah, Ga., alderman.

Moody also is charged with mailing threats to 17 federal judges in Georgia, Alabama and Florida and bombs to NAACP offices in the South and death threats to civil rights officials. If convicted, Moody faces life imprisonment.

The case was moved from Georgia after the defense argued Moody, 57, of Rex, Ga., couldn't get a fair trial in the South.

A trial whose highlight was a bizarre three days of testimony by Moody followed by a day of gruelling cross-examination ended unceremoniously with closing arguments Wednesday.

Prosecutor Louis Freeh reminded jurors of testimony that Moody made ''a declaration of war'' against the judicial system. Freeh repeated the horrors of the crimes, including detailing the death of Robinson, who he said thrashed in pain for three hours before he died.

''Walter's work,'' Freeh said sternly. ''Moody is an absolute coward. Sending bombs to people when you're hundreds of miles away is a coward's crime.''

Freeh recapped testimony and evidence that he said proved Moody is a con man and a liar who abuses people and ''believes the end justifies the means.''

''Mr. Moody is the stealth bomber,'' Freeh said. ''He'll do what he has to do to get what he wants. ... His bombs are made and designed and delivered with great stealth, great cleverness. This is a 130-IQ genius at work, a mastermind.''

Moody sat impassively, often taking notes, never looking at the jury.

The prosecution contends Moody had a grudge with federal judges over his failure to get a 1972 Bomb conviction overturned.

Edward Tolley, Moody's court-appointed lawyer, conceded his client's faults.

''At the start of the trial I told you, you would not like Roy Moody,'' he said. ''But you can't find him guilty of being an unpleasant fellow. ... You are here to determine whether there is any truth to the indictment.''

Days earlier, Tolley admitted that his client's insistence on taking the witness stand in his own defense ''had hurt him.''

In a rambling chronology, Moody tried to show he was not where the government said he was in connection with the bombings.

His testimony, sometimes punctuated by tears and his clutching and quoting the Bible, included such minutiae as an almost hourly account of a trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., where he told of making love to his wife, Susan, in a motel swimming pool at 1 a.m. and making pornographic videotapes with her.

''I am sorry Roy rambled and rambled and rambled for three days,'' Tolley told jurors.

CUTLINE: MOODY: Prosecutors say he made a 'declaration of war' against the judiciary. Says his lawyer: 'You can't find him guilty of being unpleasant.'

Louis Freeh