News and Information

Mississippi murder trial date set
January 13, 2005
A 79-year-old man accused of the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in the US state of Mississippi will go on trial in March, a court has ruled.

Edgar Ray Killen, a segregationist preacher linked to the Ku Klux Klan, was arrested for the murders last week.

The court offered to release him until his 28 March trial for $250,000 bail.

Mr Killen denies involvement in the deaths of the three men - a crime that sparked outrage and an outpouring of support for the civil rights movement.

Several people, Mr Killen among them, were charged in 1967 on federal conspiracy charges, but none of them was charged with murder.

Seven people were convicted and served up to six years in prison. Mr Killen was freed after his trial ended in a hung jury.

Prosecutors have reportedly refused to discuss the evidence that led to the latest charges against him.

Beaten and shot

The story of the FBI investigation into the crime was dramatised in the 1988 film Mississippi Burning.

The three men were killed during a campaign to register black voters.

James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were driving to investigate a fire at a church when they were allegedly stopped by Klansmen on an isolated road.

Mr Chaney, 21, from Meridian, Mississippi, was beaten to death. Schwerner, 24, and Goodman, 20, from New York, were shot in the chest.

Their bodies were found several weeks later, buried in an earthen dam, after one of the largest searches ever undertaken by the FBI.


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