/Edgar Ray Killen, klansman convicted in civil rights workers slaying, dies in prison

Edgar Ray Killen, klansman convicted in civil rights workers slaying, dies in prison

Killen, 80, was sentenced in June 2005 to 60 years imprisonment for three manslaughter charges in the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. This conviction came in a state court. The case attracted national attention due to its notoriety and how long it took to bring anyone to justice. These killings were also the basis of the 1988 film, “Mississippi Burning,” that the FBI called the case. Killen is currently awaiting an autopsy and funeral service. In 2005, Attorney General Jim Hood and District attorney Mark Duncan tried to prosecute Killen before Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon. Hood closed the investigation into the case in June 2016. He stated that possible defendants in civil-rights murders were either dead or had no credible witnesses. Killen was convicted by a Neshoba County jury of three counts each of manslaughter and murder. His conviction for the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner occurred on June 21, 2005, exactly 41 years after their assassinations by Ku Klux Klan members from East Central Mississippi. They were there to assist in voter registration drives for African Americans. Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner came from Meridian. Their deaths helped speed up passage of the Voting rights Act and brought attention to civil rights movements across the country. David Goodman, David’s brother, said to the Associated Press that Killen’s life spaned a time in America when members of the Ku Klux Klan, like him, believed they had the right to take other peoples’ lives. “Many took black lives with impunity.” Killen was born Jan. 17, 1925. He was the son Lonnie Ray Killen’s and Etta Killen. Killen was a sawmill operator, and part-time minister. Killen was a Ku Klux Klan “kleagle”, a recruiter and organizer for local chapters located in Neshoba, and the nearby Lauderdale counties. Killen was involved in the 1964 murders, which was the subject of his 2005 trial. Although the state prosecutor did not make any effort to locate the killers in 1965, Killen was among 18 men who were arrested and tried by Solicitor General Thurgood Marsh on federal charges of conspiring to violate civil rights of victims. Seven conspirators were convicted in the 1966 Meridian trial by an all-white jury. But Killen was convicted and sentenced 11-1. One dissenter said that she couldn’t convict a preacher. When the prosecution decided to not try again, he was released. Killen was charged with state charges Jan. 6, 2005, after new evidence emerged from witnesses more than 20 years ago. A jury made up nine blacks and three whites found Killen guilty of recruiting the mob responsible for the murders.