ATMORE, Ala. (AP) - Alabama has executed the oldest U.S. inmate to be put to death in modern times, an 83-year-old man convicted of a federal judge's mail-bomb slaying.
Authorities say Walter Leroy Moody Jr. was pronounced dead at 8:42 p.m. CDT Thursday after a lethal injection. He made no final statement and did not respond when a prison official asked him if he had any last words.
The non-profit Death Penalty Information Center says Moody became the oldest inmate put to death in the United States since the resumption of U.S. executions in the 1970s. Moody was convicted of killing U.S. Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance of Birmingham, who died when he opened a package mailed to his home in 1989.
Prosecutors have described Moody as a meticulous planner who committed murder by mail because of his obsession with getting revenge on the legal system. He also was convicted in federal court for a bombing that killed Robert E. Robinson, a black civil rights attorney from Savannah, Georgia.
Governor Kay Ivey released the following statement after the execution;
"I approach every execution by giving the condemned, and the issues raised by the underlying case, the careful consideration both deserve. My ultimate desire is to see justice rightly administered.
“Mr. Moody was convicted of killing Federal Judge Robert Vance and severely injuring Judge Vance’s wife with a bomb purposefully created to kill and maim. The crimes committed by Mr. Moody were intentional, well-planned and aimed at inflicting the most possible harm. A jury found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and his conviction has been upheld at every level of the judicial system.
“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. 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.”
State Attorney General Steve Marshall also released a statement.
“Nearly 30 years ago, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Vance was brutally slain when a pipe bomb sent to his Birmingham home exploded. Walter Leroy Moody was convicted of Judge Vance’s murder in both federal and state courts. 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.”