The widow of an assassinated judge said she was satisfied with Friday's conviction in federal court of Walter Leroy Moody Jr. on charges he sent mail bombs that killed the judge and a lawyer.
Helen Vance, widow of U.S. District Judge Robert Vance, said she wouldn't press for a state death-penalty case."I want him off the street, but I don't care about the death penalty," Vance said in St. Paul, Minn., A federal jury there convicted Moody on 71 counts, including the mail-bomb killing of her husband.
Three of the federal charges carry mandatory sentences of life in prison. But prosecutors in Alabama, where Vance was killed, and Georgia, where lawyer Robert Robinson was killed by another 1989 mail bomb, could bring Moody to trial on state murder charges that could bring the death penalty.
Robinson's widow, Ann, said she hadn't decided whether she wants the death penalty, but said she wants prosecutors in Chatham County, Ga., to pursue a murder case against Moody.
"Whatever punishment is feasible in the sight of the law for him, I will pray and deal with that," she said in a telephone interview from her Savannah, Ga., home.
Chatham County's district attorney, Spencer Lawton Jr., said state charges were likely.
"In view of what I've learned, I have every reason to believe we will be seeking an indictment against Mr. Moody for the tragic murder of Robbie Robinson," Lawton said. He said he was "delighted" by Moody's federal conviction.
Savannah Alderman Willie Brown, who grew up with Robinson, supports having prosecutors file state murder charges.
"I think they should proceed, absolutely," Brown said. "There needs to be some answers. I'm willing to give Mr. Moody another day in court."
But he said the federal conviction was "fantastic." He said, "I'm just so very glad they found the guy who did it and put all the doubts to rest."
Earl Shinhoster, Southeastern regional director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he found the verdict gratifying.
"It does show that the justice process does work and can work. The verdict should be of some comfort to the victims, especially those of the murders," Shinhoster said from his office in Atlanta.
Shinhoster commended the Justice Department and FBI for their investigation of the bombings, which included a tear gas bomb delivered to Shinhoster's office and a lethal bomb intercepted at the Jacksonville, Fla., NAACP office.
But he said the verdict "still leaves me with some unanswered questions and measure of uncertainty as to whether or not Moody was a lone player in this murderous episode."