Birmingham church bombing timeline

April 2, 2001 - A judge rejected a request by lawyers for Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry to move the trial out of Birmingham, Alabama. The defense argued that pre-trial publicity and the emotional nature of the case warranted a change of venue. The men face life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

May 17, 2000 -- Former Ku Klux Klan members Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry surrender to authorities after a Jefferson County, Alabama, grand jury indicts on first-degree murder charges in connection with the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls.

May 4, 2000 -- A lawyer for long-time bombing suspect Bobby Frank Cherry says his client rejected a deal in which he would receive probation if he pleaded guilty to transporting explosives over state lines. Cherry continued to deny any involvement in the bombing. Cherry was in jail in Texas on charges of raping his stepdaughter in 1971.

July 10, 1997 -- The FBI reopens its investigation into the Birmingham church bombing after a secret, year-long review.

October, 1988 -- Federal and state prosecutors reopen their investigation into the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing after Gary A. Tucker, a former bus driver dying of cancer, said he helped set the bomb. No new charges were filed.

October 29, 1985 -
- Convicted bomber Robert Edward Chambliss dies of natural causes at age 81 without ever publicly admitting any role in the bombing.
1980 -- Jefferson County's district attorney reopens the case after a U.S. Justice Department report found former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had blocked evidence that prosecutors could have used. No additional charges were filed.
Bill Paxley  

1977 -- Robert Edward Chambliss is convicted of one count of murder in the death of 11-year-old Carol Denise McNair, one of four African-American girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing.

1971 -- Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley reopens the case.

1968 -- Federal authorities pull out of the investigation without charges being filed.

1965 -- Birmingham FBI agents recommended that at least four suspects be charged with the bombing. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover blocked the prosecution of the suspects, saying the chance of winning a conviction was "remote."

September 15, 1963 -- A dynamite bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing 11-year-old Carol Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins and Carole Robertson.


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