- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Jurors in the murder trial of a former Ku Klux Klansman were shown grisly morgue photos yesterday of the four black girls killed in a 1963 church bombing.
"It was calculated to produce death," Coroner Robert Brissie said of the bomb. He said the blast shredded the girls' bodies.
Some members of the jury looked down and grimaced as Mr. Brissie used a large screen to display black-and-white photographs of the bodies.
Defendant Bobby Frank Cherry also turned his head away from the photos, which weren't visible to a gallery that included several of the victims' relatives sitting in the front row.
Mr. Cherry, a 71-year-old retired truck driver, is accused of being part of a group of Klansmen who planted a bomb outside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a rallying place for civil rights protesters in the early 1960s. Mr. Cherry is the final surviving suspect, and prosecutors say his trial will be the last in the case.
The bomb went off on a Sunday morning, killing Denise McNair, 11, and Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley, all 14.
The girls were in a downstairs lounge primping for a youth-led worship service when the bomb exploded outside the building. The force crumbled a stone-and-masonry wall 30 inches thick and left a crater more than 2 feet deep.
Retired FBI bomb specialist Charles Killion testified that agents never determined what kind of explosive was used or how the bomb was triggered. Such a lack of evidence isn't unusual in powerful explosions, he said, because bomb components often are destroyed.
However, defense attorney Mickey Johnson hammered at the lack of evidence. Noting that no timing device was found, he disputed the government's long-held theory the bomb was planted by KKK members hours before the explosion.
Mr. Killion agreed with Mr. Johnson's suggestion that a bomb could have been tossed from a passing car rather than placed under an exterior stairway, as prosecutors suggested in a previous trial.
Mr. Cherry, who now lives in Mabank, Texas, and another ex-Klansman, Thomas Blanton Jr., were indicted on murder charges two years ago. Blanton was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison.
Klansman Robert Chambliss was convicted of murder in the bombing in 1977 and died in prison. A fourth suspect died without being charged.


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