December 16 - 1989 - The Killing of Judge Robert Smith Vance
Robert Smith Vance was a Federal judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which meant that when he opened a mailbomb in his home and died many people were extremely worried. A long-term civil rights advocate and important appellate justice, Vance was someone whose killer could have been many people. Then an African-American civil rights lawyer in Savannah, Robert Robinson, opened a similar mailbomb and was instantly killed. Two defused bombs were then found sent to the NAACP in Jacksonville and the Eleventh Circuit headquarters in Atlanta. These bombs were similar to one in a 1972 case where a woman opened a package bomb her husband had prepared. The husband, Walter Leroy Moody, became the prime suspect, when it was discovered all of the bombs could be traced to his vicinity. Moody was a con-man with a variety of schemes, but his exact motivation for the bombings was unclear. Clarification never came during his trials, as he would decry the justice system, switch lawyers multiple times, and assert his innocence. Nonetheless, he was easily convicted in both Federal court and Alabama state court, where he would be sentenced to death.