Magazine article Newsweek

The Ghosts of Alabama: His Ex-Wife Says Bobby Frank Cherry Bragged about Killing Four Little Black Girls 38 Years Ago. Can His Lawyers Save Him?

Magazine article Newsweek

The Ghosts of Alabama: His Ex-Wife Says Bobby Frank Cherry Bragged about Killing Four Little Black Girls 38 Years Ago. Can His Lawyers Save Him?

Article excerpt

Byline: Frederick Burger

Bobby Frank Cherry didn't hide his hatred of black people or his membership in the Klan. While he was married to Willadean Brogdon, she testified last week, he would put on his white robe "and dance all around," just to show her kids what a Klansman was like. Their 1970 marriage lasted only three years, but Brogdon says Cherry told her plenty. The worst of it was that he had set the bomb that blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. The explosion shook the city and killed four young African-American girls. Sometimes Cherry would get a little teary when he talked about it, Brogdon testified. But then he would check himself and say something like, "At least they can't grow up to have any more n-----s."

Now 72, Cherry is the last of four suspects to go on trial for the Birmingham bombing. He faces four counts of murder and, if convicted--if his lawyers can't shake the damning testimony from Brogdon and others--he will go to prison for the rest of his life. That is cold comfort to those who note that the search for justice has taken 38 years, but at least it will close the books. The first suspect, Robert (Dynamite Bob) Chambliss, was convicted in 1977 and died in prison in 1985. The second, Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr., 63, was convicted a year ago and is serving a life sentence. Another suspect, Frank Herman Cash, died in 1994 without ever facing charges. Cherry was supposed to be tried last year but claimed to be mentally incompetent; he was later found to be faking. …

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