Miss. challenges release of former Klansman

Man appeals conviction in rights workers' deaths

August 17, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

ATLANTA - Mississippi's attorney general has challenged a judge's decision to grant bail to former Ku Klux Klan member Edgar Ray Killen, who was freed from prison Friday, less than two months into his 60-year sentence.

Killen was convicted in June of three counts of manslaughter in the 1964 deaths of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner.

In an emergency petition to the state Supreme Court, submitted Monday night, Attorney General Jim Hood argued that Killen, 80, remains a violent and dangerous man.

Hood said that a Killen relative made death threats against Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon and that an anonymous caller threatened to bomb the courthouse.

He also described a threat he said Killen made over the telephone in 1974 and a more recent threat to a jailer after his conviction.

James McIntyre, Killen's attorney, said Hood was inappropriately raising new charges. McIntyre said he expects Killen to remain free until the Supreme Court reaches a decision on his appeal, which he said could take a year or more.

Killen's release came as a blow to advocates who spent years pressing the state to try someone for the three murders.

His trial was the most recent - and, many suspected, the last - in a line of high-profile civil rights cases that have been reopened by a state eager to shake off its reputation for racial strife.

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