Thomas E. Blanton Jr., one of the Klansman convicted of bombing the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four local Black girls in 1963, will be up for parole on August 3, according to AL.com. The bombing rocked the nation at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Blanton, 86, was convicted in 2001 and is currently serving four life sentences at the St. Clair Correctional Facility. Under Alabama law, a person serving a life sentence for murder is usually eligible for parole after 15 years.
Incredibly, Blanton still has not shown any remorse for planting a bomb that took the lives of Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair during a Sunday morning service on September 15, 1963.
Blanton’s lack of contrition may cost him says Doug Jones, the former U.S. Attorney who prosecuted him.
“He has shown no remorse. He’s shown no acceptance of responsibility,” Jones told AL.com. “He has not reached out to the families or the community to show acceptance of responsibility. I think that’s an important part of parole consideration and it’s completely lacking in this case.”
Jones is expected to attend the parole hearing to argue against Blanton’s consideration. “But as a practical matter I would hope he is not realistically eligible,” he said.
Family members of the victims are also expected to attend the hearing, including Sarah Collins Rudolph, sister to Addie. Rudolph was also injured in the blast, AL.com reports. Jones says he doesn’t expect the parent’s of Carol to attend, but her sisters will make an appearance, according to AL.com.
For years, the families waited for justice. No one was arrested in the bombing until federal investigators took up the case, convicting Robert Chambliss in 1977, Blanton in 2001, and Bobby Frank Cherry in 2002.
AL.com reports the biggest piece of evidence in Blanton’s conviction was a recording between him and his former wife, where he confessed to attending a meeting to plant the bomb.
Blanton is the only surviving Klansman involved in the murder case, Cherry and Chambliss died in prison. Herman Clash, a man identified as a fourth suspect, died in 1994 without facing charges.
SOURCES: AL.com | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter