AL man executed nearly 30 years after Savannah alderman's death

Walter Moody (Source: Dept. of Corrections)
Walter Moody (Source: Dept. of Corrections)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - UPDATE: The Supreme Court lifted the stay for Walter Moody. Moody was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 9:42 p.m. Thursday evening. The execution was delayed two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary stay that was later lifted.

Moody made no final statement and did not respond when a prison official asked him if he had any last words. He is the oldest inmate to be put to death since the U.S. started carrying out executions again the 1970's.

A man convicted of killing a former Savannah alderman is set to be executed Thursday night in Alabama. Prosecutors say Walter Moody mailed Alderman Robbie Robinson a bomb in December of 1989. Moody had never met Robinson.

As is true in any death penalty case, this execution comes decades after the crime. For families, the execution brings up the emotions of a crime they'll never forget.

Moody is the oldest inmate on death row in Alabama; he would be the oldest executed in modern history. He's been on Alabama's death row for more than 20 years. The execution represents justice in the bombing deaths of a federal court judge and former Savannah Alderman Robbie Robinson.

Prosecutors say Moody mailed the bombs to federal judge Robert Vance. The judge opened the bomb in his home. Days later, Robinson received a similar package at his Abercorn Street office building. The explosion rocked the neighborhood.

Despite efforts to throw off investigators, they eventually caught Moody. A federal jury convicted him in Minnesota of 71 counts related to the murders. Five years later, an Alabama jury convicted Moody on state charges in Vance's death. The judge and jury agreed to the death penalty. Now, almost 30 years after the crimes, both families said the execution doesn't do what they'd like most – bring back their loved ones.

"I'm torn about the execution. I won't be attending it. I'm sure that day will be tough for me," said Bob Vance, the son of the federal judge. "Again, it will be one of those days I'll have to relive what happened."

"I get some satisfaction that I lived to see the day he would be executed for the crime that he caused and the pain he caused my family," said Robinson's sister, Ruth Teasley.

Robinson was very involved in the local NAACP Chapter.

"He served on the board, he was representing the NAACP legally and so he was someone who really [contributed] to the community and to the NAACP. His entire family did. We really missed him in that organization but, he was also missed as a community leader," said NAACP Savannah president and Chatham County Chairman Al Scott.

Many believe his service to the NAACP is what caused his tragic death. Moody had never met Robinson. At the time, Scott was serving in the state senate. He says two emotions overtook our community that day.

"We didn't know if they were targeting black, elected officials," said Scott. "We didn't know if it was a disgruntled client of his. The community was in shock and to some extent, fear."

The NAACP is against the death penalty. Scott had this to say about how Robinson may view this execution.

"If I could gauge what he would think of it, he would be opposed to the death penalty. He would not be opposed to punishment, but he would be opposed to the death penalty."

Wednesday, a federal appeals court denied Moody's appeal. He is set to die by lethal injection. Neither family will be in attendance.

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