Two couples pleaded innocent today to federal charges that they planned and carried out the Christmas Day bombings of three buildings where abortions had been performed.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson accepted the pleas and set trial for March 11. He also set a March 6 deadline for any plea bargaining and said he will consider a defense motion that the case be dismissed on grounds that the grand jury that indicted the four was improperly selected.
The couples were indicted Wednesday on charges that they bombed two doctors' offices and an abortion clinic Dec. 25. The two men, Matthew J. Goldsby and James T. Simmons, both 21, also were charged with bombing an abortion clinic last June 25, and pleaded innocent to that attack as well. The two women are Simmons' wife, Kathren, 18, and Goldsby's fiancee, Kaye Wiggins, also 18.
Meanwhile, the U.S. 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ordered Vinson, District Judge Winston Arnow and Magistrate Robert Crongeyer to justify a gag order they issued last week against all parties in the case.
Before the gag order, Goldsby and Simmons told reporters and federal agents that they had planted the bombs, saying God told them to do it. Goldsby's fiancee called the Christmas bombings "a gift to Jesus on his birthday."