August 12, 2005

Ex-Klansman granted bail in ‘Mississippi Burning’ case

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Mississippi judge on Friday granted
bail to 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen,
who was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the 1964 killings
of three civil rights workers in a case that inspired the 1988
movie "Mississippi Burning."

Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon granted Killen's release on
bond of $600,000 pending appeal of his manslaughter conviction,
Neshoba County court clerk Patti Duncan Lee said. Killen had
not posted bond as of early afternoon.

"The judge granted bond of $600,000, $200,000 for each
count," Lee said.

Killen was convicted by a multiracial jury on June 21 on
three counts of felony manslaughter for the notorious crime
that galvanized the civil rights movement. He was sentenced two
days later to 20 years in prison on each count.

After a short trial evoking memories of the brutal racial
violence of the era, the jury found Killen organized a posse to
kidnap, beat and shoot Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and
James Chaney and bulldoze their bodies under an earthen dam.

The jury cleared him of the more serious charge of murder.
Schwerner and Goodman, white New Yorkers, and Chaney, a black
Mississippian, were helping blacks register to vote during the
Freedom Summer civil rights campaign when they were killed on
June 21, 1964.