Witness Testifies in Competency Hearing for Former Klansman

A psychologist testified Monday that a former Ku Klux Klansman tried to fake a bad memory when tested on his competency to stand trial in a 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls. Circuit Judge James Garrett heard the testimony about ex-Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry from a staff member at a state mental health facility in Tuscaloosa. That's where Cherry's evaluation took place.

Judge Garrett had ruled the 72-year-old Cherry was mentally incompetent to stand trial in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. He could either reverse or uphold that decision based on the experts' opinions.

Cherry and another ex-Klansman, Thomas Blanton Jr., were indicted on murder charges last year in the bombing. Judge Garrett delayed trial for Cherry because of questions about his competency, but Blanton was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment this year. One of the issues to be addressed at the hearing was which legal standard Judge Garrett will use in determining whether Cherry is competent.