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Man involved in '63 church bombing dies

By Associated Press
Published November 19, 2004

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Bobby Frank Cherry, convicted of killing four black girls in the 1963 racially motivated bombing of Birmingham's Sixteenth Baptist, died Thursday (Nov. 18, 2004) in prison. He was 74.

Mr. Cherry died about 3:30 p.m. in the hospital unit at Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery, a Department of Corrections spokesman said. He had been ill for some time.

Mr. Cherry was convicted in May 2002 in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a gathering place for civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, and was sentenced to life in prison. It was the deadliest act of the civil rights era.

Mr. Cherry was among three former Ku Klux Klan members convicted in the bombing, which killed the four girls as they were preparing to take part in a Sunday morning service.

Thomas Blanton was convicted in 2001 and is serving a life prison sentence. Robert Chambliss, convicted in 1977, also died in prison.

The Sept. 15, 1963, explosion killed Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, all 14, and Denise McNair, 11.

Collins' sister, Sarah Collins Rudolph, lost an eye in the blast but her husband expressed sorrow that Mr. Cherry had died.

"I hope he was saved. I hope he repented," George C. Rudolph said.

Mr. Cherry's daughter, Karen Sunderland, said he would be buried in Texas, where she lives.

"He was a good man," she said, sobbing.

[Last modified November 18, 2004, 23:59:17]

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