- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 5, 2001

It is 1963. Birmingham, Ala., a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. Sunday morning at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Four girls die and 20 other persons are wounded when a bomb rips through the bricked exterior.

1965. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover learns the suspects are four Ku Klux Klansmen.

1968. The FBI closes its investigation. No charges are filed.

1971. Then-State Attorney General Bill Baxley reopens the case.

1972. Hoover dies.

1977. Former Klansmen Robert "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss, the presumed ringleader, is convicted and sentenced to life.

1980. Hoover blocked the prosecutions, the U.S. Justice Department says.

1985. Chambliss dies in prison.

1988. Then-State Attorney General Don Siegelman reopens the case. No action taken.

1993. The FBI secretly reopens the case.

1994. Suspect and former Klansmen Herman Frank Cash dies. He has not been charged.

1997. The FBI investigation becomes public after suspect Bobby Frank Cherry is interrogated.

1998. A federal grand jury is seated for the bombing case.

2000. Mr. Cherry and suspect Thomas E. Blanton Jr. surrender on murder charges.

2001. A judge has yet to rule on the mental competency of Mr. Cherry, who reportedly suffers from vascular dementia. After 2 1/2 hours of deliberations on May 2, a jury convicts Blanton and sentences him to life in prison. As the handcuffed Blanton is escorted out of the courtroom, he says, "I guess the good Lord will settle it on Judgment Day."

Chris and Maxine McNair, parents of the youngest bombing victim, 11-year-old Denise, sit on the front row of the courtroom during the reading of the Blanton verdict. They are silent as they leave the courthouse.


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