BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 6 (UPI) -- Jury selection began Monday for the final suspect in the 1963 bombing of an Alabama church that killed four young black girls preparing for Sunday services.
Bobby Frank Cherry, who has been diagnosed as mentally ill, is accused of helping fellow Ku Klux Klan members to plant the deadly bomb that exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on Sept. 15, 1963.
Cherry, 72, was originally found incompetent to stand trial, but the judge later reversed his decision after more psychiatric testing. His attorney, Mickey Johnson, said Cherry's vascular dementia has made it difficult to communicate with him and prepare a defense.
If convicted, Cherry could be sentenced to life in prison. It was expected to take until next week to choose the jury for Cherry's trial.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge James Garrett met privately with attorneys. Questionnaires were then distributed to more than 100 potential jurors.
"We'll dismiss for a couple of days so that we can ponder that and go over everything and bring them back on Thursday," said prosecutor Doug Jones.
Garrett said he may sequester the jury. He also issued an order barring attorneys for both sides from discussing the case outside of court.
The investigation into the bombing was closed in the late 1960s without an indictment. After the case was re-opened, Roert Chambliss was convicted of the bombing in 1977. A grand jury issued new indictments in 2000. Thomas Blanton was convicted of murder last May.
(Reported by Mike Cooper in Atlanta)