August 12, 2005

Ex-Klansman out on bond in civil rights case

MIAMI (Reuters) - Former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen
was released on bond on Friday while he appeals his
manslaughter conviction for the 1964 killings of three civil
rights workers in a case that inspired the 1988 movie
"Mississippi Burning."

Mississippi Judge Marcus Gordon granted Killen's release on
$600,000 bond. A Neshoba County Sheriff's official said Killen
was released after relatives and friends posted the bond.

Killen, 80, was convicted by a multiracial jury in June on
three counts of felony manslaughter for the notorious crime
that galvanized the civil rights movement. He was sentenced two
days later to 60 years in prison.

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.