Michael Donald Bray, leader of a conservative Lutheran splinter group and a fervent foe of abortion, was convicted tonight of conspiracy in the bombings of 10 abortion clinics and related facilities in the mid-Atlantic region in 1984 and early 1985.
A federal court jury of seven men and five women returned the verdict before U.S. District Judge Alexander Harvey II after deliberating about four hours.
Bray, 32, his head drooping with disappointment, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy and one count of possessing unregistered explosive devices in a rental storage bin near his Bowie home.
The jury acquitted Bray of two other counts of possessing explosive devices -- pipe bombs, chemicals and other bomb components seized by federal agents at the home of a second defendant in the case, Thomas Eugene Spinks, 37, of Bowie.
Bray, who is scheduled to be sentenced July 2, faces up to 20 years in prison and $30,000 in fines. He remains free on bond pending sentencing.
Bray left the courtroom grim-faced, accompanied by his wife, Jayne, 29, and his mother, Beverly. About 30 friends and supporters, many of whom had sat through the entire six-day trial, also followed him from the courthouse, murmuring words of comfort.
The verdict culminated a tense and often dramatic trial in which Spinks, a roofing contractor and fellow foe of abortions, had testified against Bray. He said Bray accompanied him on two bombings, in Dover, Del., and Norfolk, and helped him plan eight others in the Washington area.
Spinks, in an agreement with federal prosecutors, pleaded guilty to conspiracy earlier in exchange for a recommendation by prosecutors that he be sentenced to no more than 15 years in prison.
A third defendant in the case, Kenneth William Shields, 34, of Laurel is scheduled to be tried separately June 3.
A turning point in the trial came when Bray decided not to testify in rebuttal to Spinks' claims of Bray's intimate involvement in the bombings. Instead, his attorney, Robert Muse of Washington, relied primarily on character witnesses who described Bray as a peaceful, honest, God-fearing man highly respected in his community.
Spinks had testified that Bray drove with him to Dover in Bray's car early in the morning of Jan. 14, 1984, the car filled with cans of gasoline and rags. Spinks said he then set fire to the Reproductive Care Center and the two returned to Bowie.
On the trip to Dover, Bray's car skidded on an icy patch at Kent Narrows, just east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and slammed into a van, delaying the trip for some time, Spinks said. Prosecutors obtained insurance reports of the accident, and the driver of the van, subpoenaed into court, placed Bray at the accident scene.
Today, in a new disclosure, prosecutor Robert B. Green said in his final arguments that Bray's car bore Colorado tags at the time of the accident, although the vehicle was registered in Maryland. "Is that someone who is not acting devious?" Green asked.
Also, in what court observers said was an unusual tactic, defense attorney Muse acknowledged for the first time in final arguments that Bray did accompany Spinks to Dover. "There is no question he was there," Muse said. "But that doesn't mean he was part of the conspiracy."
Without indicating what, if any, role Bray had in firebombing the Dover clinic, Muse said the trip to Dover was his "one mistake" that he "would regret the rest of his life."
Repeatedly, Muse said Bray had a reputation for being religiously committed to nonviolence and it was "out of character" for him to participate in clinic bombings.