Defendant Reveals Secret Deal Offers, Proof of Conspiracy

Pat Shannan
Defendant Reveals Secret Deal Offers, Proof of Conspiracy
Fri Dec 5 14:52:25 2003

Birmingham Jury Ignores Facts, Convicts Cherry
Defendant Reveals Secret Deal Offers, Proof of Conspiracy

by Pat Shannan

The Alabama man recently convicted of bombing a black church in 1963 said that he has been the victim of an elaborate scheme by federal prosecutors and the FBI to blame him for a heinous crime that he says he never committed.

Defendant Bobby Cherry (left), 71 yrs old, met with Pat Shannan at a secret location to conduct this interview during the Alabama trial. Major descrepancies exist in the case against Cherry.

In an exclusive and secret interview during his May trial, Bobby F. Cherry and other family member revealed that Alabama prosecutors made several offers of plea bargains both before and during his trial, all of which were refused. They claim to have tape recordings of the offers by U. S. Attorney Doug Jones and gave us a copy of a letter signed by him on Justice Department stationery confirming the offer.

A Birmingham, Alabama jury deliberated six hours before agreeing on May 22nd that Bobby Cherry had played a part in the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls. The incident, which has always reeked of FBI duplicity, became the touchstone of the Civil Rights movement and influenced the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.

Prior to his immediate sentencing of life in prison, Cherry was asked by Judge James Garrett if he had anything to say in his defense. "This whole bunch," said Cherry, pointing to the prosecutors, "has lied all the way through this thing. All of them lied. I don't know why I am going to jail for nothing. All I have done is tell the truth. I haven't done anything." Cherry has maintained his innocence since his initial (and voluntary) interviews with the FBI a few months after the 1963 incident.

The "evidence" presented at trial did nothing to refute Cherry's statement. There were no eyewitnesses - in fact, several to the contrary - and the political motivation of the prosecution was blatant, as Jones proved only that Cherry had once been a Klan member (in the 1950s), had participated in anti-integration demonstrations during the era, and had made inflammatory statements.

"They needed a scapegoat," said Karen Sunderland, 40, Cherry's youngest daughter, "and Dad was the most convenient. There were a few thousand more who were just as guilty for what he did, including [former Governor] George Wallace."

Indeed, political satisfaction did appear to be the ongoing goal. (See "21st Century Dreyfus Case in Birmingham Fibbies Still Seek "to Pin Church Bombing on Someone," Media Bypass, December 2001) Last year, Judge Garrett looked at medical reports and ruled that Cherry was mentally incompetent to stand trial. But instead of dismissing the charges, Garrett sent Cherry to a state mental hospital in Tuscaloosa for further tests. The proposed stay of ten days turned in 70 days. His illness was diagnosed as Vascular Dementia caused by a series of strokes. There is no cure for the loss of brain cells. Yet in December, Garrett reversed himself and declared Cherry competent to stand trial.

Cherry says that one of Jones' offers came in March of 2000, prior to the indictment, and included "no jail time and no other forthcoming federal or state charges," if Cherry would plead guilty to hauling dynamite across state lines. Cherry said, "I refused because it was not true."

Family friend Dennis Wynn said, "Any guilty man would have jumped at that opportunity."

Just prior to trial, Cherry turned down another offer of a lifetime in a mental home, with liberal family visiting privileges, etc. Again he refused.

Initiated by FBI Lies

The case began with the resurrection of a 1964 FBI "302" report from Special Agent Bill Fleming, who had written that his white informant on Klan activities at the time, Mary Frances Cunningham, had told him that she saw Bobby Cherry place the bomb at the church on Saturday evening.

However, when Cunningham was brought forth as a defense witness on May 18th, she emphatically stated that she had never said such a thing to the FBI or anyone else and that Fleming had arbitrarily placed the statement in his report and it was his own fabrication. The case had been at a standstill until the report resurfaced in a 1997 investigation instigated by U. S. Attorney Doug Jones. Jones was brought in as a special prosecutor in the state court and was paid $55,000 by the State of Alabama.

Mary Cunningham affirmed that Fleming had falsified the same report 36 years later when he attested to the same story in front of the 2000 grand jury that indicted Cherry.

Retired FBI Agent Bob Eddy admitted under cross-examination that he knew at the time that it was not true that Cunningham had made such a statement and said under oath that Fleming's 302 report concerning Cunningham was not accurate.

Reasonable Doubt

In September of 1963, Bobby Cherry was recovering from a trucking accident and was wearing a large and cumbersome back brace, making his ambulatory movement awkward. It is doubtful that he would have been physically capable of carrying a bomb large enough to have inflicted this massive amount of damage.

On the other hand, there was a looming question at the time that has never been satisfied: What exactly did cause the explosion? There was no dynamite residue found at the scene.

Two phone calls alerting the people to get out came into the 16h Street Baptist Church but went unheeded. The warnings, allegedly from the police department, came approximately five minutes and two minutes before the explosion, but the church was not evacuated.

"I can't imagine the Klan planting a bomb and phoning in a warning minutes before it goes off," said Wynn.

Who Really Did It?

According to Cherry, his lawyers secured affidavits from six Birmingham policemen who were on security duty at the 16th Street Baptist Church on Saturday night, when the bomb was allegedly placed. Within at least four of the affidavits which family members have reviewed, the policemen attested to the fact that two FBI agents were the only people allowed into the church that night and that no one else attempted to enter. Inexplicably, neither the testimony of the former policemen nor their affidavits were placed into evidence.

A former Deputy U. S. Marshal turned whistle blower had maintained from the first hour that the church bombing was instigated by agents and informants of the federal government in an attempt to gain sympathy for the impending Civil Rights legislation. Dan Moore, who passed away last August, had good reason to believe this.

In 1963, he was second in charge of the Birmingham U.S. Marshal's office behind Peyton Norville, a former FBI agent. Early in the morning of September 15th, Moore was awakened by a surprising call from his "bigger boss" in the Marshal's executive office in Washington, J. W. Cameron. He was ordered to go immediately to the post office building and secure the federal offices there.

Perplexed about this urgency at dawn on a Sunday morning, Moore asked if there was some kind of emergency. "No," answered Cameron, and then went on with a stammering reply that they might be expecting some riots and demonstrations the following week and wanted to be prepared.

"So why were they alerting me at six o'clock on a Sunday morning?"

Moore continued to question this for the remaining 38 years of his life.

Following orders but admittedly not too hurriedly, Moore got dressed, had a leisurely breakfast with his wife, and made his way downtown a few hours later. He had placed armed guards at each entrance and on the stairwells of the federal building.

At a few minutes after ten o'clock, he heard the explosion and received a phone call five minutes later informing him that there had been a church bombing only blocks away. Four little girls had been killed.

Moore told us in a March 2001 interview, "Now either Cameron was a psychic who could foretell the future or the U. S. Marshal's office had prior knowledge of the bombing. Which do you think it was?"

Deputy Marshal Moore was convinced from the moment he received the call that the crime had been "government instigated" and the perpetrators were probably FBI informants.

"They never do the crimes themselves but pay their informants to get it done," he said.

Moore's continual outspokenness finally resulted in his being fired without a pension in 1968. For the last twelve years of his life he was bedridden, but he never stopped speaking out about the corruption in the federal judiciary. He may have been the last honest federal lawman.

Defense attorneys were informed of the availability of this witness and his willingness to go on video with his testimony more than a year prior to trial. However, they chose not to do so.


Pat Shannan's Explosive Report!


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