VanPac News History

Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company  
The New York Times

November 6, 1996, Wednesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A;  Page 19;  Column 1;  National Desk 

LENGTH: 290 words

HEADLINE: A Man Is Convicted By an Alabama Jury Of Killing a Judge




A man was found guilty of murder today in the mail-Bomb killing of a Federal judge in 1989 that came as part of a wave of violence that seemed intended against blacks.

Jurors also recommended the death penalty for the defendant, Walter Leroy Moody, 51.

Sentencing is expected in about six weeks. Under Alabama law, a judge does not have to follow the jury's recommendation.

Mr. Moody, who presented no defense during the trial, was convicted on two counts of capital murder and one count of first-degree assault in the attack on Judge Robert Vance of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Judge Vance was killed in December 1989 as he opened a package in his kitchen in suburban Mountain Brook. The package Bomb also injured his wife, Helen.

Mr. Moody, of Rex, Ga., is already serving a sentence of life without parole after his 1991 convictions on Federal charges in the deaths of Judge Vance and Robert Robinson, a civil rights lawyer and alderman in Savannah, Ga. Prosecutors also blamed him for package bombs sent to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, the court on which Judge Vance served, and an N.A.A.C.P. office in Jacksonville, Fla. Those devices were intercepted and disarmed.

Mr. Moody had no lawyer for the trial, after suing two court-appointed lawyers in 1994 to force them off the case and refusing replacements. Prosecutors contended Mr. Moody killed Judge Vance out of frustration and hatred over being unable to overturn a 1972 conviction on a charge of possessing a pipe bomb.

Mr. Morrow said the Bomb sent to Alderman Robinson, who was black, was intended to make it appear that a hate group like the Ku Klux Klan was behind Judge Vance's killing.