Killen Jury: We're Deadlocked

Edgar Ray Killen leaves the Neshoba County Court House in Philadelphia, Miss., Monday, June 20, 2005. The jury began deliberations in Killen's murder trial for the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers. AP

For the past four decades, Edgar Ray Killen has faded into the fabric of this rural Mississippi community, reaching his golden years with family and friends, preaching the occasional wedding and funeral, and operating his sawmill.

On Monday, the 80-year-old part-time preacher and former Ku Klux Klansman watched from his wheelchair as prosecutors asked a jury to bring him to justice in the 1964 nightrider murders of three civil rights workers.

"Those three boys and their families were robbed of all the things that Edgar Ray Killen has been able to enjoy for these last 40 years," District Attorney Mark Duncan said in closing arguments.

If convicted, Killen could spend his remaining years behind bars.

The 12 jurors, nine white and three black, began deliberating Killen's fate on the eve of the 41st anniversary of the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Jurors deliberated for about two and a half hours before going home without a verdict. At the end of the day, the judge polled jurors to determine how they were progressing, and the panel reported being deadlocked 6-6. The judge then told them to return Tuesday to resume deliberations.

"These people, and I'm not just talking about the jurors but just about everyone involved in this case, are acting like they have non-refundable tickets for a cruise later in the week and they don't intend to let a murder trial get in the way of their travel plans," CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen said.

"I have never seen a case seem so rushed as this one as been," Cohen added. "From the 15-minute opening statements to the jury coming back after only a few hours and declaring themselves deadlock. There is a reason they call it 'deliberations.' It is supposed to be a slow, thoughtful process. Not a rush for the doors.

"If this isn't the quickest deadlock in legal history it's got to be close."

Defense Attorney James McIntyre said that while the events that occurred in 1964 were horrible and he had sympathy for the families of the victims, "the burden of proof does not reflect any guilt whatsoever" on the part of Killen.

McIntyre acknowledged that Killen was once a Klan member, but added: "He's not charged with being a member of the Klan. He's charged with murder." He then pointed out that no witnesses could put Killen at the scene of the crime. Killen did not take the stand.

"If you vote your conscience you are voting not guilty," he said. "There is a reasonable doubt."

  • Scott Benjamin

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