Mississippi high court upholds conviction of former KKK organizer Killen

[JURIST] The Mississippi Supreme Court [official website] Thursday upheld [opinion, PDF] the manslaughter convictions of former Ku Klux Klan organizer Edgar Ray Killen [Wikipedia profile]. Killen, now 82, was sentenced to 60 years in prison [JURIST report] in 2005, receiving one 20-year sentence for each of the 3 young men who were killed in 1964 after assisting African-Americans in registering to vote. Killen appealed his sentence on a number of grounds, including prejudice in the 41-year pre-indictment delay resulting in, among other things, faded witness memories. The court rejected any contention of actual prejudice from the delay, citing the fact that Killen's own witnesses had testified live about the events of 1964, and none claimed problems with faded memories.

The court further rejected Killen's argument that the delay was intentionally used to gain a tactical advantage. Killen claimed in his brief that the political climate in Mississippi in the 1960s would have made a conviction back then far less likely. The court expressed surprise that Killen would even attempt to claim present prejudice stemming from the fact that he was not tried by a white-prejudiced jury. AP has more.



 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.