ST. PAUL, Minn. — The man accused of killing a federal judge and a civil rights attorney with mail bombs ignored his attorney's advice Wednesday and took the witness stand in his own defense, tearfully telling a story of betrayal, depression and retribution.
At times rambling and other times breaking down in sobs, Walter Leroy Moody Jr., a 57-year-old Georgia man, admitted falsifying evidence in an attempt to reverse his 1972 federal conviction for bomb possession.
Reading from documents pulled from a thick manila folder, Moody told jurors he left a five-year prison term depressed and suicidal. He pulled himself out of his depression only by making a decision, he said. "I would falsify material and use the same unsavory tactics they had used against me," Moody said.
Moody also testified that he was using chemicals and other materials found in his home by police after the killings to conduct cold fusion experiments similar to those undertaken by two Utah researchers.
Moody is charged with killing Judge Robert S. Vance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Birmingham, Ala., and Robert Robinson, a civil rights lawyer and alderman in Savannah, Ga.
He allegedly sent four nail-packed bombs through the mail in December, 1989. Two of them killed the judge and the lawyer, prosecutors said, while two others, sent to a court office and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People in Atlanta, were defused.
Prosecutors have portrayed Moody as so obsessed with his 1972 conviction for bomb possession that he decided to go to war against the judicial system. Moody will resume his testimony today. No other defense witnesses will be called.
Prosecutors rested their case after an FBI agent played a tape recording and distributed a transcript he said quotes Moody saying to himself: "Now you've killed two (last word unintelligible) . . . . Now you can't pull another bombin'."
Moody's attorney, Edward Tolley, advised his client against testifying. After court adjourned, Tolley said he was now serving Moody more as a shepherd than as an attorney. "I've gone from representing him to advising him," Tolley said.
Moody is being tried in Minnesota because of the publicity the case generated in the South.