Convict in 1964 Civil-Rights deaths won't confess

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Convict in 1964 Civil-Rights deaths won't confess
FILE - Reputed Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen, is shown in this June 20, 2005 file photograph taken in Philadelphia, Miss. James Stern, a black man who was a cellmate in a Mississippi prison with Killen, says that he gave him power of attorney while in prison and has taken control of 40 acres of Killen's land, with an acre to be set aside for a civil rights memorial at a Thursday, June 14, 2012 news conference in Jackson, Miss. Killen was convicted on June 21, 2005 _ exactly 41 years after Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were killed. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
** ADVANCE FOR DEC. 24-25--FILE ** Edgar Ray Killen is wheeled to the Neshoba County Courthouse in Philadelphia, Miss., June 23, 2005, for sentencing on manslaughter charges for the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers. Killen was sentenced to the maximum 60 years in prison for masterminding the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers. The trial and sentencing attracted the eyes of the country as an element of one of the civil rights movement loose strings was finally tied. The story is one of the state's top news events for 2005. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis, File)
** FILE ** Edgar Ray Killen is shown in a file photo from 1964. Killen, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was arrested late Thursday, Jan. 6, 2005, on murder charges in the 1964 slaying of three voter-registration volunteers, a case that is one of the last pieces of unfinished business from the civil rights era. Neshoba County (Miss.) Sheriff Larry Myers told The Associated Press that Killen was arrested at his home without incident. Myers said there would be more arrests in connection with the killings, which were dramatized in the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning." (AP Photo/Courtesy University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
This June 1964 FBI photograph supplied by the State of Mississippi, Attorney General's Office and presented into evidence, Friday, June 17, 2005, in Philadelphia, Miss., during the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, shows the scene where the burned station wagon driven by James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner was found shortly after their disappearance. The car was discovered at the Bogue Chitto swamp some 13 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Killen is charged with the 1964 deaths of the three civil rights workers. (AP Photo/State of Mississippi, Attorney General's Office)
This June 1964 FBI photograph presented into evidence, Friday, June 17, 2005, in Philadelphia, Miss., during the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who is charged with the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers. The photograph shows the scene where the burned station wagon driven by James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner was found shortly after their disappearance. The car was discovered at the Bogue Chitto swamp some 13 miles northeast of Philadelphia. (AP Photo/State of Mississippi, Attorney General's Office)
This June 1964 FBI photograph presented into evidence, Friday, June 17, 2005, in Philadelphia, Miss., during the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who is charged with the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers. The photograph shows the burned station wagon driven by James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner was found shortly after their disappearance. The car was discovered at the Bogue Chitto swamp some 13 miles northeast of Philadelphia. (AP Photo/State of Mississippi, Attorney General's Office)
** ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY, SEPT. 7 ** EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT ** FILE ** In this 1964 file photo released by the FBI, the bodies of three civil rights workers are uncovered from an earthen dam southwest of Philadelphia, Miss. The photograph was entered as evidence by the prosecution in the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted in 2005 for three counts of manslaughter in the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. (AP Photo/FBI, File)
Investigators locked up the charred station wagon of a missing civil rights trio, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, after it was found in a swampy area near Philadelphia, Miss., June 6, 1964. Three civil rights workers, two white and one black, have been missing since Sunday night. They were last seen as they drove this vehicle from Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
The burned station wagon of three missing civil rights workers - Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney is found in a swampy area near Philadelphia, Miss., June 24, 1964. Only a shell remains. The tires, windows, interior and exterior are completely burned. Two white and a black civil rights worker were arrested in the station wagon Sunday. They have been unaccounted for since that time. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
The FBI on June 29, 1964, began distributing this picture of civil rights worker Michael H. Schwerner, who disappeared near Philadelphia, MS, June 21, 1964. (AP Photo/FBI)
The FBI on June 29, 1964, began distributing this picture of civil rights worker James E. Chaney, who disappeared near Philadelphia, Miss., June 21, 1964. Chaney and two other civil rights workers were abducted and killed June 21 and buried in an earthen dam in rural Neshoba County. (AP Photo/FBI)
The FBI on June 29, 1964, began distributing this picture of civil rights worker Andrew Goodman, of New York City, who disappeared near Philadelphia, Miss., June 21, 1964. Goodman and two other workers were later found buried in an earthen dam in rural Neshoba County. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Oct. 19, 1967 file photo, Neshoba County Sheriff Deputy Cecil Price holds a copy of the Meridian Star newspaper with Edgar Ray Killen as they await their verdicts in the murder trial of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Meridian, Miss. Of the 18 defendants, Price was convicted on conspiracy charges along with six other defendants. Killen walked out of federal court in 1967 because the jury could not reach a verdict. But in 2005, the former Ku Klux Klansman and one-time Baptist preacher was convicted of manslaughter in the 1964 slayings. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell, File)
J.R. "Bud" and Beatrice Cole show the memorial marker in Neshoba County, Miss., January 6, 1989, to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, civil rights workers murdered in 1964. They are flanked by the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, burned by the Ku Klux Klan five days before the murders. The night of the burning, Klansmen beat Cole as he left a meeting at the church, suspected of being a meeting place for civil rights workers. (AP Photo/Strat Douthat)
Federal and state investigators probe the swampy area near Philadelphia, Miss., where the burned station wagon of the missing civil rights trio was found June 23, 1964. The civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, 24, Andrew Goodman, 21, both white and James Chaney, 21, black, were last seen in Philadelphia, Miss., Sunday night, June 21, 1964. (AP Photo)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, center, arrives at the Federal building between two FBI men as he is brought in to be arraigned before U.S. Commissioner on violating civil rights of three Freedom Summer workers in Meridian, Miss., Oct. 3, 1964. (AP Photo/Horace Cort))
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, left, and his deputy Cecil Price, right, arrive at the Federal building in Meridian, Miss., Dec. 10, 1964. They have preliminary hearings on charges in connection with three slain civil rights workers participating in the Freedom Summer campaign part of the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, right, and deputy Cecil Price, center, greet cameramen as they return from a recess in their trial on conspiracy charges in the death of three civil rights workers in Meridian, Miss., Oct. 9, 1967. At left is Billy Wayne Posey, another of 18 people charged in the case of the Freedom Summer activists. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Former Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey, one of 18 defendants in the murder trial of three civil rights workers, chews on a wad of tobacco as he leaves the Federal building in Meridian, Miss., Wednesday night, Oct. 19, 1967. The case of the Freedom Summer murders has gone to the jury with deliberations to continue Thursday. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell))
Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price watches marchers as they pass through Philadelphia, Miss., during a memorial for three slain civil rights workers, June 21, 1965. Price is charged with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of the three Freedom Summer activists slain by Klansmen in 1964. Seven Ku Klux Klansmen were convicted of federal civil rights violations in the deaths and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to ten years; none served more than six years. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey, right, and deputy Cecil Price, center, pass a Meridian policeman en route to court on the third day of their conspiracy trial in the slaying of three civil rights workers in Meridian, Miss., Oct. 11, 1967. At left is Richard Andrew Willis, another of 18 people charged under an 1870 federal law of conspiring to deprive Freedom Summer activists Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney of their civil rights. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, left, and his deputy Cecil Price, are back on the job in Philadelphia, Miss., after being released on a $5,000 bond, Dec. 5, 1964. Rainey and Price were charged by the government in connection with the slaying of three civil rights Freedom Summer workers last June. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey gets into his car in Meridian, Miss., April 12, 1967, after pleading innocent at his arraignment on conspiracy charges in the 1964 slaying of three civil rights Freedom Summer workers near Philadelphia, Mississippi. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, right, his deputy Cecil Price, left, and an unidentified friend, center, are shown in good humor in Meridian, Miss., Dec. 10, 1964, after U.S. Commissioner Esther Carter dismissed charges against them and 17 others in preliminary hearing on charges in connection with the slaying of three civil rights Freedom Summer workers last June. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, with cigar, leaves the Federal buildings in Meridian, Pa., with attorney Laurel Weir after posting bond, Jan. 16, 1965. (AP Photo)
A crowd watches in background as Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price, left, is escorted into the Federal building by FBI agents to be arraigned before U.S. Commissioner on violating the civil rights of three Freedom Summer workers in Meridian, Miss., Oct. 3, 1964. (AP Photo/Horace Cort)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey gets into his auto after testifying before a federal grand jury which convened in Biloxi, Miss., Sept. 21, 1964, to investigate the brutal slaying of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia, Miss., in June. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, left in first row, and his deputy Cecil Price, in front of photographer, arrive at the Federal building in Meridian, Miss., Dec. 10, 1964, for preliminary hearing for them and 19 other men charged by the government in connection with the slaying of three civil rights Freedom Summer workers last June. (AP Photo/Horace Cort)
Edgar Ray Killen points to a family member during a recess in an appeal hearing for his bond in Philadelphia, Miss., Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. Killen is going back to jail. A judge has revoked his bond and ordered him back behind bars. Killen is appealing a manslaughter conviction for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. Friday's ruling came after a court hearing at which prosecutors said he may have been misrepresenting his medical condition. (AP Photo/Kyle Carter/Pool)
Neshoba County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Gordon gives his ruling in an appeal bond in the case against Edgar Ray Killen in Philadelphia, Miss., Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. Killen is going back to jail. Gordon revoked his bond and ordered him back behind bars. Killen is appealing a manslaughter conviction for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. Friday's ruling came after a court hearing at which prosecutors said he may have been misrepresenting his medical condition. (APPhoto/Kyle Carter,Pool)
Edgar Ray Killen testifies during his bond hearing in a courtroom in Philadelphia, Miss., Friday, Aug. 12, 2005. A judge granted Killen a $600,000 bond on Friday so the one-time Klansman can be released from prison while he appeals his manslaughter convictions in the killings of three civil rights workers. (AP Photo/Kyle Carter, Pool)
Betty Jo Killen, left, visits briefly with her husband, Edgar Ray Killen, as he is taken out of the Philadelphia, Miss., courtroom after being sentenced to three consecutive 20-year terms in prison for each count of manslaughter for masterminding the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis,Pool)
Flanked by public defender Chris Collins, left, reputed Ku Klux Klan member Edgar Ray Killen listens as Neshoba County District Attorney Mark Duncan, right, reads the indictment charging Killen with murder in the slayings of three civil rights workers more than 40 years ago, during his appearance in circuit court, Friday, Jan. 7, 2005, in Philadelphia, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
Reputed former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, wearing a bullet-resistant vest and flanked by members of the Neshoba County Sheriff's Department deputies including jail administrator Larry Cannon, right, and Gary Myers, behind, walk towards the Neshoba County Courthouse, in Philadelphia, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2005, for a bond hearing. Killen, identified by federal prosecutors almost four decades ago as being a Ku Klux Klan chieftain who helped organize and carry out the killings of three civil rights workers in rural Mississippi, will stand trial March 28 for the murders and had bond set at $250,000. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
Edgar Ray Killen, center, prepares to enter his car after being released from the Neshoba County Dentention Center in Philadelphia, Miss., Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2005. Killen, the reputed Klansman charged with murdering three civil rights workers in Mississippi more than four decades ago, was freed on $250,000 bond Wednesday as he awaits a March 28 trial. (AP Photo/Kyle Carter, Pool)
News photographers phograph reputed Ku Klux Klan member Edgar Ray Killen of Union, Miss., as he sits in a Neshoba County Courthouse, in Philadelphia, Miss., Jan. 7, 2005. Killen was indicted on murder charges in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers. The criminal proceedings garnered national attention including extensive coverage in the courtoom. The state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005, that before cameras can be barred from Mississippi courtrooms, a judge must provide a detailed ruling on why he believes a defendant might be deprived of a fair trial. Without such specific findings, cameras cannot be barred, a 5-3 majority of the court ruled. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis, File)
Standing in the "demonstrators pen," a man who identified himself only as Ishmael, a resident of Roxie, Miss., held the morning's only visual sign of protest at the jury selection phase for the murder trial of Edgar Ray Killen, in Philadelphia, Miss., Monday, June 13, 2005. Killen is accused in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers. Authorities established demonstration areas away from the courthouse to accommodate expected protestors. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
Reputed Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, is pushed into towards the Neshoba County Courthouse in Philadelphia, Miss., Monday, June 13, 2005, by his stepson Jerry Edwards, under police escort, for the jury selection of his trial for the deaths of three civil rights workers in 1964. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
PHILADELPHIA, MS - JUNE 10: A stone outside the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church memorializes three men, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman June 10, 2005 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The men were sent to investigate a fire at the church and beatings of church members by Klansmen. The men later disappeared and their bodies were discovered Aug. 4, 1964, in an earthen dam outside of Philadelphia. The case, which came to be known as Mississippi Burning, was said to have paved the way for the U.S. civil rights movement. The man accused in the deaths, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, is due to stand trial June 13, 2005 in the nearby city of Philadelphia. (Photo by Marianne Todd/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, MS - JUNE 10: A Historical marker near the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church serves as a reminder of the murders of three men, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman June 10, 2005 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The men were sent to investigate a fire at the church and beatings of church members by Klansmen. The men later disappeared and their bodies were discovered Aug. 4, 1964, in an earthen dam outside of Philadelphia. The case, which came to be known as Mississippi Burning, was said to have paved the way for the U.S. civil rights movement. The man accused in the deaths, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, is due to stand trial June 13, 2005 in the nearby city of Philadelphia. (Photo by Marianne Todd/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, MS - JUNE 10: A stone sits outside the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church memorializes three men, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman June 10, 2005 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The men were sent to investigate a fire at the church and beatings of church members by Klansmen. The men later disappeared and their bodies were discovered Aug. 4, 1964, in an earthen dam outside of Philadelphia. The case, which came to be known as Mississippi Burning, was said to have paved the way for the U.S. civil rights movement. The man accused in the deaths, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, is due to stand trial June 13, 2005 in the nearby city of Philadelphia. (Photo by Marianne Todd/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, MS - JUNE 10: Dorothy Seales, the designated caretaker of the civil rights memorial honoring the lives of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, cleans up around the stone outside Mt. Nemo Missionary Baptist Church June 10, 2005 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The three had been investigating the beatings of church members at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, some 15 miles away, when they were arrested. The men later disappeared and their bodies were discovered August 4, 1964 in an earthen dam outside of Philadelphia, MS. During that summer, Mt. Nebo was the only area church where C.O.R.E. (Congress of Racial Equality) members were allowed to gather to register black voters. The case, which came to be known as Mississippi Burning, was said to have paved the way for the U.S. civil rights movement. The man accused in the deaths, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, is due to stand trial June 13, 2005 in the nearby city of Philadelphia. (Photo by Marianne Todd/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 8: The headstone (R) of black civil rights worker James Chaney is held in place with metal supports along a rural road more than forty years after his murder June 8, 2005 in Meridian, Mississppi. Vandals continue to desecrate Chaney's gravesite: beams now support the headstone and a photo of Chaney that once adorned the top of the stone has been shot out. Chaney's body was discovered in 1964 with two other voting activists, who were white, in an earthen dam in nearby Neshoba County. The case, which came to be known as Mississippi Burning, was said to have paved the way for the U.S. civil rights movement. The man accused in Chaney's death, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, is due to stand trial June 13, 2005 in the nearby city of Philadelphia. (Photo by Marianne Todd/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 8: The epitaph on the grave of black civil rights worker James Chaney is seen along a rural road more than forty years after his murder June 8, 2005 in Meridian, Mississppi. Vandals continue to desecrate Chaney's gravesite: metal beams now support the headstone and a photo of Chaney that once adorned the top of the stone has been shot out. Chaney's body was discovered in 1964 with two other voting activists, who were white, in an earthen dam in nearby Neshoba County. The case, which came to be known as Mississippi Burning, was said to have paved the way for the U.S. civil rights movement. The man accused in Chaney's death, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, is due to stand trial June 13, 2005 in the nearby city of Philadelphia. (Photo by Marianne Todd/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 8: The headstone of black civil rights worker James Chaney is held in place with metal supports along a rural road more than forty years after his murder June 8, 2005 in Meridian, Mississppi. Vandals continue to desecrate Chaney's gravesite: beams now support the headstone and a photo of Chaney that once adorned the top of the stone has been shot out. Chaney's body was discovered in 1964 with two other voting activists, who were white, in an earthen dam in nearby Neshoba County. The case, which came to be known as Mississippi Burning, was said to have paved the way for the U.S. civil rights movement. The man accused in Chaney's death, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, is due to stand trial June 13, 2005 in the nearby city of Philadelphia. (Photo by Marianne Todd/Getty Images)
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PARCHMAN, Miss. (AP) -- Craggy-faced and ornery, Edgar Ray Killen bears the signs of his 89 years. His hands are still scarred and rough from decades in the east Mississippi sawmills. He has a muscular build even as he maneuvers in his wheelchair. Time has not softened his views and he remains an ardent segregationist.

And he steadfastly refuses to discuss the "Freedom Summer" slayings of three civil-rights workers, which sparked national outrage, helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and landed him behind bars.

Killen was interviewed by The Associated Press inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary, where he is serving a 60-year sentence; it was his first interview since his conviction on state charges of manslaughter in 2005, 41 years to the day after James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were killed and buried in a red clay dam. An earlier trial in 1967, on federal charges, resulted in a mistrial.

Killen wouldn't say much about the 1964 killings. He said he remains a segregationist who does not believe in race equality but contends he bears no ill will toward blacks.

The three civil-rights workers - black Mississippian Chaney and white New Yorkers Schwerner and Goodman - were investigating the burning of a black church outside Philadelphia when they were stopped on an accusation of speeding and held for hours in the Neshoba County jail. Witnesses testified that Killen rounded up carloads of Klansmen to intercept the three men upon their release and helped arrange for a bulldozer to hide the bodies.

The bodies were found 44 days later, buried miles away in a red-clay dam.

In his four-hour interview with the AP, Killen is talkative but his mind wanders, a problem he attributes to brain damage from a logging accident a few months before his trial. He says he has never and will never talk about the events that became immortalized in the film "Mississippi Burning."

Killen first contacted an AP reporter 18 months ago.

In his first letter on March 3, 2013, he made clear that no conversation with a reporter would result in a confession.

"That is not where I am coming from after 50 years of silence," Killen wrote. "I have never discussed the 1964 case with anyone - an attorney, the FBI, local law nor friend - and those who say so are lying."

Since then, both he and the AP filed repeated requests to have a reporter added to his visitation list. The Mississippi Department of Corrections, citing a policy of not allowing media to see inmates, denied at least a dozen requests. The agency abruptly agreed this month.

Visitors are not allowed to bring pens, pencils or paper into the prison.

Killen often leans in because he has trouble hearing and cups a hand to his left ear in the direction of guests sitting farther away.

He speaks of associations with hundreds of people during his life - from political figures to friends and neighbors. Killen is talkative about corruption in the Mississippi prison system, his good times and close relationship with the late Sen. James O. Eastland and his preaching at a tiny Baptist church in east Mississippi from which he got the nickname "Preacher."

But his wife said no friends visit or write her husband.

"They don't come; they don't ask about him," Betty Jo said as she left the visitors' center at the prison.

Killen said people at Parchman were well aware of his identity before he arrived.

"Oh yes. They knew who I was," he said.

Killen said he had some run-ins with black prisoners and had received threats but nothing ever came from them.

He won't talk about his well-known association with the Ku Klux Klan as an organizer. He does say he knew some people in the KKK.

A question about what he thought of the testimony of friends at his trial drew his anger.

"Friends? What friends? You talking about Winstead?"

Mike Winstead testified that he was 10 years old and sitting on his grandfather's porch one Sunday in 1967 listening to Killen and his grandfather talk.

"My grandfather asked him, did he have anything to do with those boys being killed," said Winstead, who was serving a 30-year sentence for rape. "He told my grandfather yes, and he was proud of it."

Killen said he didn't know Winstead, and never visited the house.

"I think I would remember if I did that," Killen said.

Chaney's sister, the Rev. Julia Chaney Moss of Willingboro, New Jersey, said she was not surprised Killen wouldn't talk about the slayings.

"I can only wish Mr. Killen peace at this juncture in his life. ... If he can achieve a modicum of peace, I wish that for him," Chaney said.

Killen's first trial on federal conspiracy charges was held in 1967, but the all-white jury could not reach a verdict. One juror said she could not convict a preacher. Of the seven who were convicted, none served more than six years.

Because many of those who testified in 1967 were no longer available, prosecutors got permission to have others read transcripts of the earlier testimony into the new court record.

A convergence of factors led to a new trial in 2005. There was a new district attorney and Mississippi attorney general, persistent media coverage and advocacy groups urging a closer look.

In the 2005 trial, Attorney General Jim Hood acknowledged that Killen did not shoot the men himself, but said Killen's role as organizer made him just as guilty as those who fired the guns.

Testimony read in court showed Killen ordered fellow Klansmen to attack Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman and then went to a funeral home to create an alibi for himself.

James Jordan, a Klansman who has since died, testified for the prosecution in 1967 that Killen showed the killers where the men were jailed and where to wait to hunt them down once they were released. As carloads of Klansmen drove off to intercept the three doomed men, Jordan said, they let Killen off at a funeral home.

"He said he had to go there because if anything happened, he would be the first one questioned," Jordan said.

Killen's only response today to any of that was his often repeated contention that he is not a criminal convict but a political prisoner.

One thing of which he is certain: "I could have beat that thing if I'd had the mental ability," Killen said, tapping his bald head.

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