Former KKK Man Judged Completent

By and

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.?A judge ruled Thursday that former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry is mentally competent to stand trial on murder charges in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls.

Circuit Judge James Garrett had initially ruled Cherry mentally incompetent last year. But he reversed himself after further evaluation of Cherry, whose age is listed in court records as both 71 and 72. In a two-sentence order, the judge said Cherry “has been restored to competency.”

The judge set a Jan. 18 proceeding to set a trial date.

The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church was the deadliest crime of the civil rights era. The church?a gathering point for demonstrators pressing for integration?was blown up on a Sunday morning, Sept. 15, 1963, as Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, all 14, and 11 year-old Denise McNair prepared for a service.