Murders Around Mississippi

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Maybe it will all go away?

Billy Wayne Posey
in 2005, far left,
and Posey in 1964

The federal government had enough evidence to indict and convict Billy Wayne Posey back in the 1960s on conspiracy to deny civil rights charges in the murders of the three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi. But the state of Mississippi today says it does not have enough evidence to indict on state charges and refuses to do so. So why did Mississippi prosecute only Edgar Ray Killen?

From an AP article dated last January 11, 2005

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi grand jury met Thursday to decide whether sufficient evidence still exists after 40 years to bring state charges in the slayings of three civil rights workers whose bodies were found in an earthen dam.
Neshoba County District Attorney Mark Duncan, who joined state Attorney General Jim Hood in presenting the case to the grand jury, said the panel could complete its work as early as Friday

He declined further comment, including whether indictments were anticipated. Hood would say only that he also expected the process to be completed quickly.

Mississippi, meanwhile, has experienced some success reopening old civil rights murder cases, including the 1994 conviction of Byron de la Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers in Jackson. (Yet some civil rights observers continue to question Beckwith's role, citing evidence that Beckwith was "falling on his sword" for Klansmen Gordon Lackey, Beckwith's Klan mentor.)

Until this past summer, there had been little progress in trying to build murder cases against those involved with the 1964 Ku Klux Klan slayings of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

“After 40 years to come back and do something like this is ridiculous ... like a nightmare,” Billy Wayne Posey of Meridian, one of seven people convicted of federal conspiracy charges in the killings, told the AP reporter. The graying Posey, supported by a cane, refused to say if he expected to be indicted by the grand jury.

Some forty years ago, in 1967, a federal grand jury indicted 19 men on civil rights violations in the three mens' deaths. One of seven defendants, Posey was convicted and ordered to serve prison terms ranging from three years to 10 years. Thursday in a phone interview with the Associated Press, Carolyn Goodman, 89-year-old mother of Andrew Goodman, expressed optimism, that in the end, the right thing would happen. Goodman said she remains to look for justice and not revenge.

Jackson attorney James D. McIntyre, who did not identify his client but said he was on the defense team during the 1967 trial, was critical of prosecutors.“It appears to be a sad day for the state of Mississippi,” McIntyre said to AP reporters.“The investigation that has being brought forth — the prosecutors, news media — I just hate to see it happen."

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