Cherry sentenced to life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2002

Staff report

The final defendant in one of the bloodiest Civil Rights bombings was found guilty Wednesday.

Ex-Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry will be automatically sentenced to life after a jury of nine whites and three blacks found him guilty of helping to set the bomb that killed four black girls at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963.

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Cherry was the third defendant to be found guilty. The first was convicted in 1977, and the second was convicted just last year. A fourth suspect died without being brought to trial.

The bomb killed 11-year-old Denise McNair and three 14-year-olds: Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.

The girls were killed just after 10 a.m. on a Sunday, as they primped for a youth worship service

Gov. Don Siegelman said the verdict was historic.

"Today, Alabama closes a dark chapter of her history, one that seemingly condoned violence," Siegelman said. "A man, whose heinous crime was motivated by intense racial hatred, has been found guilty of murdering four young girls.

After nearly four decades of suffering by the families and friends of Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, and after the infamy thrust upon the State of Alabama, it is impossible to say that justice has been done, for nothing can bring back the lives of these four little girls. Let their names serve to remind anyone who attempts to sow the seeds of violence and racial hatred that the State of Alabama will not tolerate cowardly acts of violence against our citizens."