83-year-old Walter Leroy Moody Jr., convicted in 1972 over explosions, was on Thursday night executed in Alabama, United States making him the oldest to be put to death in modern era.
He was convicted three decades ago after a bombing campaign claimed the life of a federal judge, set off panic and prompted a sprawling federal investigation. The lethal injection of Moody made him the oldest inmate put to death in the modern era. And in a sign of how death row populations are aging amid a nationwide decline in executions, Moody became the eighth inmate older than 65 put to death since the beginning of 2015.
The execution occurred at a correctional facility in Atmore, Alabama, about 118 miles outside Montgomery, the capital. It came in the wake of a recent string of bombings in Austin that evoked the 1989 explosions for which Moody was sentenced to death. Moody, who maintained his innocence in the bombings, was convicted in 1991 on federal charges and then in 1996 on state charges.
The FBI calls what followed the explosions “one of the largest cases in our history,” with investigators scouring the debris left behind and retracing where the packages had been as they hunted for clues. Investigators eventually discovered that the 1989 bombings had their roots in an explosive device that went off more than a decade earlier, authorities said. Moody was convicted in 1972 of possessing a pipe bomb the FBI said it detonated, injuring his wife and was sentenced to three years in prison.
After that, Moody “declared war on the federal judiciary,” Alabama officials wrote in a court filing. They say Moody, who had attended law school, sought to have his conviction vacated, so he “bribed an acquaintance to give sworn testimony that a fictitious individual used by Moody as an alternate suspect in his 1972 trial actually existed.” The ploy did not work, the officials wrote.