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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

Friday, April 20, 2018

Alabama Executes Man for 1989 Mail-Bomb Murder of U.S. Appeals Court Judge Robert S. Vance

BIRMINGHAM – The State of Alabama last night carried out the death penalty for Walter Leroy Moody Jr., the man convicted of the 1989 capital murder of U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert S. Vance. A federal jury in 1991 also convicted Moody on 71 charges related to the pipe-bomb murders of Judge Vance and Georgia civil rights lawyer Robert E. Robinson.

“In the almost 30 years since the explosion at their Mountain Brook home killed Judge Vance and seriously injured his wife, Helen, his family never lost faith in America’s system of justice and the rule of law. Robert Vance Jr. is a circuit judge in Jefferson County and his wife, Joyce White Vance, preceded me in this office as U.S. Attorney. Alabama, last night, imposed its court-ordered punishment for Mr. Moody, and justice is done.”

“Moody was tried and convicted by a jury of his peers and his conviction has been scrubbed by every level of court in our justice system,” Town said. “He may have been condemned to death by the State of Alabama, but he was executed because of his own murderous actions. I hope that Moody’s punishment brings some closure and peace to the family and friends who loved Judge Vance.”

Moody was linked to the mail-bomb deaths of Judge Vance and Robinson through a similar bomb nearly two decades earlier that had injured Moody’s wife when it exploded. His prosecution in that case led to his resentment of the courts leading up to the 1989 bombings.

Along with the bombs that killed the judge and Robinson, Moody also sent bombs that were intercepted before exploding — one at the main 11th Circuit courthouse in Atlanta and another at the NAACP's office in Jacksonville, Fla.

Updated April 20, 2018