September 9, 2005

Klansman’s bail revoked in ‘Mississippi Burning’ case

By Jeff Edwards

PHILADELPHIA, Mississippi (Reuters) - A judge sent Edgar
Ray Killen back to prison on Friday and said the Klansman
jailed for orchestrating the murder of three civil rights
workers had misled the court about his health to win bail.

Killen, who used an oxygen tank to assist his breathing
during his trial in June, broke both legs in a tree-cutting
accident in March. He testified at his bond hearing in August
that he was in great pain, was unable to walk and needed
therapy that was unavailable in prison.

But a sheriff's deputy testified on Friday that he saw
80-year-old Killen at a gas station, walking and standing
beside his pickup truck. Several other deputies said they had
seen Killen driving around town.

"I feel fraud has been committed upon the court," Circuit
Court Judge Marcus Gordon told Killen, who sat before him in a
wheelchair. The judge revoked Killen's bail.

In June, a jury convicted Killen on three counts of
manslaughter for the 1964 killings of James Chaney, Michael
Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, three young civil rights workers
who were registering blacks to vote in Mississippi.

The notorious crime galvanized the civil rights movement
and inspired the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."

Killen was sentenced to 60 years in prison but in August,
Gordon released him on $600,000 bail pending appeal because of
his deteriorating health.

The judge noted on Friday that a local newspaper had quoted
Killen as saying he planned to attend a "Killen Appreciation
Day" reception proposed by a white supremacist group.

Gordon said Killen's mobility obviously was not as limited
as he had claimed and ordered him back to prison. Deputies
wheeled Killen out of the courthouse in his wheelchair and
drove him to the Neshoba County jail to await transfer to the
state prison.

"When you come into court and place yourself in front of
the court in a truthful manner, you'll receive justice," the
judge told reporters outside the courthouse later. "But when
you come in there with fraudulent testimony, the courts can't
stand for that."