BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 22 (UPI) -- A 12-member jury in Birmingham convicted Bobby Frank Cherry of four counts of first-degree murder Wednesday in the 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls.
He will serve a mandatory term of life in prison.
After the verdict was read, Cherry was asked if he had anything to say. He pointed to the prosecution table, and said he had done nothing and all the witnesses lied.
The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days before announcing a verdict.
Cherry, 71, was the third former Ku Klux Klan member to be convicted in the deadliest bombing of the civil rights struggle in the 1950s and 1960s.
Co-defendant Thomas Blanton Jr. was convicted by jurors last year and is appealing the verdict and his life sentence. He claims prosecutors deliberately kept white males off his jury. Cherry's jury had six white women, three white men and three African-Americans, but no black females.
Robert "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss was convicted in 1977 and died in prison. A fourth suspect, Herman Cash, died in 1994 without having been charged.
The jury got the case Tuesday and deliberated two and a half hours before recessing.
In closing arguments the prosecution said there was plenty of evidence to convict and the defense said there was none.
Prosecutor Don Cochran told jurors the bombing was an act of hatred and that justice is long overdue after nearly four decades.
Defense attorney Mickey Johnson said Cherry, now a 71-year-old retired trucker from Mabank, Texas, had no connection to the bombing. He said the case was based on lies, his membership in the Ku Klux Klan and his friendships with other members.
Cherry's trial was delayed last year after doubts over whether he was mentally capable of aiding his defense. Cherry did not testify during the trial.
The victims of the explosion that occurred as they were preparing for a Sunday morning youth service were 11-year-old Denise McNair and three 14-year-olds: Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.
Their relatives attended the entire trial and several testified.
Cherry consistently denied involvement in the bombing, both publicly and in a series of interviews with investigators. But prosecutors reopened the case in 1995 and found five family members and acquaintances who said Cherry bragged about it.