ATLANTA, NOV. 8 -- Walter Leroy Moody Jr., charged in mail bombings that killed a federal judge and a lawyer, refused to enter a plea today, pending his attempt to bar any federal judge from hearing the case.
In a hearing before a federal magistrate, lawyers for Moody said the fact that a federal judge was one of the victims damages impartiality of all federal judges.
They requested in a court motion that the Senate Judiciary Committee appoint an independent officer to hear the case.
U.S. Magistrate William Harper referred the case to U.S. District Judge Richard Freeman for trial. No hearing was scheduled on the motion. A plea of not guilty was entered automatically for Moody because of his refusal to plead.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Shapiro would not comment on the motion, which said every federal judge in the country has altered working habits and life styles because of the mail bombings last year.
A federal indictment issued Wednesday includes a murder charge against Moody in the slaying of Judge Robert Vance in Alabama and explosives charges related to the death of Savannah lawyer and alderman Robert Robinson.
Alabama officials said Moody, 56, also may face state murder charges and the death penalty in the slaying of Vance, a member of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Georgia authorities said they have not seen enough of the evidence, most of it developed by federal authorities, to decide whether to press state charges against him in the death of Robinson.
The murder charge in the 70-count indictment carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. No murder charge was included for Robinson's death. Moody was charged with transporting explosive material with intent to kill in that death. The charge also carries a maximum penalty of life and $250,000.
Moody also is charged with various other offenses related to the bombings. If convicted on all 70 counts, he could face seven life terms plus 385 years in prison and fines of $16.9 million.
Jimmy Evans, Alabama's attorney general-elect and currently Montgomery County district attorney, said that, because Moody is a federal prisoner, there would be no petition to extradite him to Alabama. Instead, the state would "borrow" Moody from federal authorities long enough to prosecute him, Evans said.