Connect with us

News

Alabama executes 83-year-old Walter Moody for 1989 murder of federal judge

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

Walter Moody, 83, was executed Thursday at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. (via Alabama Department of Corrections)

The State of Alabama executed an 83-year-old man Thursday evening for a 1989 bombing that claimed the life of a federal appeals judge in Alabama.

Alabama put Walter Moody to death by lethal injection at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, making him the oldest death-row inmate put to death in modern American history.

Moody was convicted in 1991 after an exhaustive federal investigation found that Moody delivered a package containing a homemade pipebomb to Federal Judge Robert Smith Vance’s home in Mountain Brook. That bomb exploded, instantly killing Vance and seriously injuring his wife.

Advertisement

“For our system of government to work properly, the judiciary must be able to operate without undue outside influence. By targeting and murdering a respected jurist, Mr. Moody not only committed capital murder, he also sought to interrupt the flow of justice,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey Thursday in a statement, after she allowed Moody’s execution to continue despite some calls for clemency in his case because of his advanced age.

The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily delayed his execution with a stay Thursday night to consider last-minute appeals in which Moody’s attorneys argued that the lethal injection would be difficult because of his age and his “spider veins.”

They also said that Vance — who had been chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party before being nominated by President Jimmy Carter to the federal bench — had been personally opposed to the death penalty.

They eventually allowed the execution to continue, and so did Ivey.

“After considering the facts of his horrendous and intentional crime, I have allowed Mr. Moody’s sentence to be carried out in accordance with the laws of this state and in the interest of ensuring justice for the victim and his family,” the governor said.

A complicated federal trial that involved the recusal of all circuit and district judges in the United States 11th Circuit, where Vance was on the bench, led to Moody being convicted on all counts. He was also found to be responsible for the murder of a black civil rights attorney, Robert E. Robinson, based in Savannah, Georgia, who was killed in a separate explosion.

Years earlier, in 1972, Moody had been convicted of possessing a pipebomb that exploded and seriously injured his wife in their kitchen. The earlier case was a major factor in Moody’s 1991 conviction. Investigators said Moody was angry with the federal judiciary after they refused to vacate his sentence.

Vance was not on the panel that made the decision, but Moody seemed to target him anyway. He was also found to have sent four bombs in total:  one to Vance, one to Robinson, and two more that were found and defused before exploding at the 11th Circuit’s headquarters in Atlanta and at the Jacksonville, Georgia, office of the NAACP.

Investigators believed that Moody sent the additional bombs to the NAACP and Robinson because he hoped to throw investigators off his trail by adding a racial element to the crime.

He was later convicted on state charges for Vance’s murder and was sentenced to death by electrocution on Feb. 10, 1997.

The Department of Corrections said Thursday in a statement that Moody’s execution began at 8:17 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 8:42 p.m. He gave no final statement.

“Walter Leroy Moody was convicted of Judge Vance’s murder in both federal and state courts,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. “Even though he was also convicted of a similar pipe bomb death of a Georgia attorney, Moody has spent the better part of three decades trying to avoid justice. Tonight, Mr. Moody’s appeals finally came to a rightful end. Justice has been served.”

Vance’s son, Bob Vance, is now a Jefferson County circuit judge in the running for the State Supreme Court. Judge Bob Vance did not attend the execution.

Moody’s execution drew national attention because of his age. Before Moody’s execution, the oldest death-row inmate to face the death penalty since it was reinstated by the Supreme Court in the late 1970s was John Nixon, who was 77 when he was executed in 2005.

As states are carrying out fewer executions because of court litigation and the scarcity of some lethal injection drugs, the age of many death row inmates is rising. Georgia executed a 67-year-old earlier this year, and Alabama executed 75-year-old Thomas Arthur last year who had escaped the death penalty seven times before.

Death Row inmate Thomas Arthur executed after seven previous attempts

The average age on Alabama’s death row is low, sitting now at 32 years old, though there are three inmates on Alabama’s death row aged 68 or older, according to ADOC records, and many more who are nearing that age.

The oldest now is Charlie Washington, 70, who was sentenced in 2004 to death row for murder in the course of a robbery or burglary.

More than 180 people, the vast majority of which are men, remain on death row.

Another case involving an elderly death-row inmate will make its way to the Supreme Court after the justices this year agreed to hear the case of Vernon Madison, 67, who was convicted of killing a Mobile, Alabama, police officer in 1985.

His attorneys say he has no memory of the crime after suffering multiple strokes; therefore, capital punishment can’t serve its purpose in his case.

 

Continue Reading

Elections

Mistaken identity and racist, sexist, anti-Semitic posts could spell disaster in PSC race

Bill Britt

Published

on

Degrading women, racial slurs, anti-Semitic rhetoric and semi-pornographic images posted on social media pages hasn’t hindered the rise of a Republican Party candidate for the Alabama Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities and other entities.

The Alabama Public Service Commission race, where little-known James “Jim” Bonner  is challenging incumbent Jeremy Oden. Bonner is actually leading Oden in recent polls because voters in the Mobile area are confusing him with former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, who served the area in Congress for more than a decade. He is also seeing wide support in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas because of former University of Alabama Chancellor Judy Bonner.

“What makes this particular race so interesting is that Jim Bonner is benefiting greatly from having the same last name as the former Congressman Jo Bonner and his well-known sister former Judy Bonner,” noted Cygnal’s president, Brent Buchanan. “This is borne out by the fact that in the Mobile media market Bonner leads Oden by 28 percent to 6 percent, a 4-to-1 ratio.”

Advertisement

Despite all of this publicly available information, Bonner is leading in the GOP PSC primary against incumbent Oden for Place I on the commission.

According to Buchanan, Bonner is leading Oden due to mistaken identity.

Even though Bonner’s Facebook posts are readily available  voters wrongly identify the candidate.

Facebook Posts

A closer look at at his posts revels a card reading, “My love 4 you burns like 6,000 jews,” donning a makeshift postage stamp of Hitler. His post reads, “Awwwww I got a Valentine!!!!”

In other posts, he defended the N-word and called himself a Bentley Republican.

But if these things don’t outrage Conservative sensibilities, then perhaps a photo Bonner posted of a young boy nursing on a mannequin breast should.

In several posts, he likes the use of the N-word and jokes about African-Americans in derogatory posts, refers to a female as a fat stripper, then says, “I’m sorry everyone knows you’re not a stripper” and joins in negative comments about a woman’s vagina, which he calls, “[N]atures perfect design.” Referencing a Chinese restaurant’s menu he says, “The fried anus was the best I ever had.”

In post after post, Bonner seems to revel in racist, sexist and anti-semite comments, but this has dampened his support among those who think he is someone he’s not.

Even with its dominance, the Republican Party has struggled with the conviction of the Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard on felony ethics violations, Gov. Robert Bentley who resigned in disgrace and loss of a safe U.S. Senate seat by Judge Roy Moore.

“It appears from the data that this PSC race is within the margin of error strictly because of name confusion. Bonner is competitive across the state despite the fact that he has spent no money on advertising or building his name ID,” added Buchanan. “Given what is expected to be a low turnout election, Bonner would be favored to win this race if it were held today.”

Bonner is one more case of Republicans failing to vet candidates before approving their candidacy.

 

Continue Reading

Elections

APR’s League of Influentials offer predictions in the upcoming Republican primary

Bill Britt

Published

on

During the first two weeks of May, the Alabama Political Reporter asked its League of Influentials to weigh in on upcoming Republican statewide elections. The Influentials are a roster of lawmakers from both parties, political analysts, members of the media, lobbyists and consultants that span the political spectrum.

The survey finds Gov. Ivey with a narrowing lead, a surprise in the attorney general’s race and Billy Canary of the Business Council of Alabama leaving sometime before hell freezes over and other prognostications.

Results in the June 5 primary for the Republican governor’s race, APR‘s Influentials project Gov. Kay Ivey will lead the field with 52 percent, followed by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle at 24 percent, rounding out the field are Evangelist Scott Dawson pulling 16 percent and State Senator Bill Hightower with eight percent.

Advertisement

What will the vote percentages be for each of the GOP gubernatorial candidates on Election Day?

Tommy Battle: 24 percent

Scott Dawson: 16 percent

Bill Hightower: 8 percent

Kay Ivey: 52 percent

In the Republican lieutenant governor primary, Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh tops the pack with 52 percent, according to APR‘s Influentials forecast. State Rep. Will Ainsworth garners 34 percent, and State Senator Rusty Glover trails at 15 percent.

What will the vote percentages be for each of the GOP Lieutenant Governor candidates on Election Day?

Will Ainsworth: 34 percent

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh: 52 percent

Rusty Glover: 15 percent

In the Attorney General’s challenge, former Attorney General Troy King and current appointee, Steve Marshall, are within strike distance of each other with King holds a 4 point lead at 35 percent to Marshall’s 31 percent. Former U.S. Attorney and AG Chief Deputy Alice Martin pulled 22 percent, with Chess Bedsole coming in at 12 points.

What will the vote percentages be for each of the GOP Attorney General candidates on Election Day?

Ches Bedsole: 12 percent

Troy King: 35 percent

Steve Marshall: 31 percent

Alice Martin: 22 percent

As for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Tom Parker walks away with 71.88 percent to appointed Chief Justice Lyn Stuart’s 28.13 percent.

Who wins the GOP Primary for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

Tom Parker: 71.88 percent

Lyn Stuart: 28.13 percent

APR also asked its Influentials about any surprises in the Republican primary and, overwhelmingly, they saw the opportunity for an upset in the attorney general’s race with 46.88 percent seeing a stunning finish to the hotly contested election.

As for other potential surprises, the Influentials see small percentage in  the  GOP Supreme Court Chief Justice Primary at 18.75 percent, in the GOP Governor Primary 15.63 percent and a 9.38 percent in the GOP Lieutenant Governor Primary.

Which statewide race do you think will be the most surprising in the results on June 5?

GOP Governor Primary: 15.63 percent

GOP Lieutenant Governor Primary: 9.38 percent

GOP Attorney General Primary: 46.88 percent

GOP Supreme Court Chief Justice Primary: 18.75 percent

GOP Supreme Court Associate Justice Primary: 0.00 percent

APR‘s Influentials believe embattled Business Council of Alabama CEO Billy Canary will be replaced after the June 5 primary, with 18.75 percent thinking he will remain as the organization’s chief until after the November general election. The same number, 18.75 percent, project his departure when hell freezes over.

When does Billy Canary depart BCA?

After the Primary Election: 62.50 percent

After the General Election: 18.75 percent

After hell freezes over: 18.75 percent

A break down of Influentials who participate in this poll are as follows:

What best classifies you and your role?

Lobbyist/association: 25 percent

Legislator: 18.75 percent

Political Consultant: 37.50 percent

Other elected official: 6.25 percent

Media: 12.50 percent

All answers are received anonymously, and not even APR‘s staff can identify who participated in the survey.

 

Continue Reading

News

The revenge of the BCA

Josh Moon

Published

on

A terminated position, a transfer, a well-financed primary opponent and a ballot challenge.  

Over the last several weeks, some of the major players who exposed a scheme to smear a state superintendent candidate and hand the job to an outsider have fallen on hard times.

And the source of their problems isn’t much of a mystery among Montgomery insiders: The Business Council of Alabama.

Advertisement

“This is (the BCA’s) MO now,” said one Republican lawmaker. “They crossed them and this is the payback.”

To understand what’s going on, we’ll need to backtrack a bit. Back to the Dumbest Scheme Ever.

That scheme was carried out during the 2016 search for a state schools superintendent that eventually landed Michael Sentance.

To make quick work of it, here’s what happened: Jefferson County superintendent Dr. Craig Pouncey was the frontrunner for the state job, but just before the official interviews of the finalists, a mysterious ethics complaint was filed against him. That complaint originated from State School Board Member Mary Scott Hunter, who said she received it anonymously, like every other board member, prior to a regular meeting.

The allegations in the complaint were way old and way outside the statute of limitations. But that didn’t stop Hunter from passing them along, the Ethics Commission from opening an initial investigation or the legal staff at the Alabama State Department of Education from opening its own investigation.

Ultimately, the allegations were found to be without merit. But when Pouncey lost to Sentance, a number of people wanted to know just what the hell happened.

State Sen. Gerald Dial opened a bipartisan legislative committee investigation into the matter and started calling witnesses. At ALSDE, another investigation was started — this one headed by department attorney Michael Meyer, at the direction of Sentance, to uncover whether department employees had conspired with Hunter to smear Pouncey.

Keeping tabs on the whole matter was blogger and now Montgomery school board candidate Larry Lee, whose popular “Education Matters” blog was a daily must-visit site for most education employees in the state during this ordeal.

The result of it all was an embarrassing chain of discoveries — that Hunter bragged about Pouncey’s “ethics problem” at a BCA event, that ALSDE attorneys called Pouncey’s alma mater to encourage it investigate him, that Ethics Commission violated at least three of its own rules to open an inquiry and that attorneys from a politically connected firm were mysteriously aiding the whole process.

It was a mess.

One that led to Hunter backing out of her bid to become lieutenant governor and played no small role in Sentance ultimately being forced out after just a year on the job.

“That wrecked a lot of plans, when he was pushed out of there,” said a source close to the situation.

But last month, things took a turn for the BCA, when its candidate of choice, Eric Mackey, was selected by the board as the new state superintendent. And ever since, some odd things have been occurring.

Dial, who headed up the legislative committee investigation, is retiring from the Senate and is running for state Agriculture Commissioner. And wouldn’t you know it, he has a well-financed opponent. (Although, apparently one who has a questionable past.)

Lee’s candidacy for the Montgomery County School Board was in serious jeopardy recently after a challenge was filed with the Alabama GOP executive committee. Lee found evidence of at least two hired attorneys working to dig up dirt on him, and BCA director Billy Canary personally donated to Lee’s opponent.

Meyer, who wrote the report on the Pouncey smear — the report that famously found evidence of five people colluding to smear Pouncey — was surprised a week ago with a transfer out of ALSDE and to the state Department of Human Resources. Three days later, Meyer’s wife, Tracey, a longtime legislative liaison who was well liked around the State House and ALSDE, had her position eliminated by Mackey without warning.

Several state school board members have privately expressed shock and anger at the moves. But for several state lawmakers, who spoke to APR on condition of anonymity, the revenge tactics by the BCA and Canary aren’t a surprise. And they’re a major reason so many of them have soured on working with the BCA.

“I don’t get what they’re trying to do,” said one longtime Republican lawmaker. “This is not the way it was done in the past, when that group had a lot of power. We had disagreements, but there was understanding of why and we still worked together. There was none of this vindictive revenge junk or whatever it is — punishment, I guess. A lot of people are tired of it, and I think that shows in how unsuccessful BCA has been lately.”

Two sessions back, BCA-backed legislation was shut out. Last session, the only meaningful bill it pushed through was a revisement of ethics laws — a bill that was so unpopular by the time it passed that it could cost lawmakers their seats in upcoming elections.

Now, with a potential gas tax and an infrastructure overhaul bill poised for consideration, the BCA is facing a critical time. If these pushes fail in the upcoming session — and passing a tax hike is never easy in this state — it would be a major blow to many of the businesses that contribute the most BCA money.

But instead of building bridges to ensure it all passed, the BCA leadership appears to be setting them on fire.

 

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

Alabama executes 83-year-old Walter Moody for 1989 murder of federal judge

by Chip Brownlee Read Time: 4 min
0