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Granddaughter says church bomb suspect confessed

Bobby Frank Cherry
Bobby Frank Cherry  


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (CNN) -- The granddaughter of Bobby Frank Cherry testified Friday that he told her he was involved in the killings of four black schoolgirls in the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church.

"He said he helped blow up a bunch of 'niggers' back in Birmingham," Teresa Stacy said about Cherry. "He seemed rather jovial, braggish about it."

Cherry, 71, is charged with four counts of murder and four counts of arson for the bombing, which killed the three 14-year-olds and one 11-year-old. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Stacy said Cherry made the comments to her when they were on the front porch of his mobile home around 1985, when she was about 10 years old.

About Cherry's alleged role in the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, she added, "It was common knowledge in the family."

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On cross-examination, Stacy acknowledged she had had problems with drugs shortly after Cherry allegedly made the comment to her.

Appearing in a long white dress, she said she had also been treated for continuing problems with alcohol, and described herself as a recovering alcoholic.

Stacy first made her allegations against her grandfather in 1997, after which Glamour magazine featured her in a photo spread, and ABC's "Good Morning America" interviewed her.

The defense attorney said Friday that Stacy had made up the allegations to gain publicity.

Sarah Collins Rudolph, 51, the sister of Addie Mae Collins, one of the four girls who died, told the court Friday she was in the ladies' lounge of the church with the girls when the bomb detonated.

"I heard a loud noise -- Boom! -- I didn't know what happened. Glass went in my eye and cut my chest. ... I began to call Addie. I said, 'Addie, Addie!'"

Asked whether her sister responded, Rudolph -- who was blinded in one eye by the attack -- said, "No, she didn't."

Cherry sat impassively in the courtroom throughout Friday's testimony.

The prosecution wrapped up Friday, and the defense is scheduled to begin two days of presentations Saturday. The case is expected to go to the jury by midweek.

Stacy is not the only relative of the retired truck driver to take the stand against him. Cherry's ex-wife testified Thursday that the former Ku Klux Klansman admitted responsibility for the bombing.

Willadean Brogden, who was married to Cherry from 1970 to 1973, said she was with him when his car broke down about a block from the 16th Street Baptist Church.

She testified Cherry pointed to the building and said, "That's the church I bombed. I lit the fuse."

Brogden said Cherry told her he had put the bomb under the steps the night before the September 15, 1963, attack.

She said Cherry told her he regretted that children were killed, "but at least they couldn't grow up to have more [black children]."

Brogden also testified that during a July 1970 trip to the Atlanta Zoo with Cherry and Robert Chambliss, Cherry turned to her and said "Robert is the best bomb maker in the country." Chambliss, who was known as "Dynamite Bob," was convicted of murder in the bombing in 1977 and died in prison.

Thomas Blanton Jr. was convicted of murder last year and was sentenced to life in prison. A fourth suspect, Herman Cash, died in 1994 without being charged.



 
 
 
 


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