COVINGTON, La. (CBS/AP) The second-degree murder trial of Raymond Foster, the leader of a Louisiana faction of the Ku Klux Klan, didn't even get past the first witness before Foster told the court he wanted to plead guilty as charged for the shooting death of Cynthia Lynch, a new recruit to the Klan, in 2008.
Frankie Stafford, a fellow Klan member from Bogalusa, La., was just beginning his second day of testimony against Foster on Wednesday, in which he told the court about Lynch's erratic behavior in the days leading up to her murder.
Stafford, who was convicted of obstruction of justice for helping to hide Lynch's body, told jurors the group was on a camping trip in November 2008, and that they held an initiation ceremony where they "knighted" Lynch as a new recruit to the KKK, according to CBS affiliate WWL.
It was the next day, Stafford testified, that everything came to a head and just before Foster shot her, the 43-year-old Lynch cursed him and yelled "I want out."
Assistant District Attorney Joey Oubre showed jurors pictures Stafford took from the ceremony. The photographs show the group in Klan outfits. In one photo, Foster uses a sword to "knight" Lynch, who was from Tulsa, Ok. The next photo shows Lynch and Foster embracing, the station reported.
After pleading guilty Foster was allowed to make a statement in court. He apologized to his family and friends, including several of the Bogalusa Klan. Then, Foster looked at the victim's mother, Victoria Lynch, and said, "I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."
Prosecutors believe it was Victoria Lynch's obvious grief during Stafford's testimony that led Foster to enter the plea and put an end to the trial, according to WWL.
"That caught the attention of the defendant," Oubre said. "It was said that it may have effected his concern not only for Mrs. Lynch but for his family to put them through it as well."
"It was very difficult to face him with a public apology like that for killing my daughter," Victoria Lynch said. "I forgive him and I feel sorry for both him and the entire family."
Foster was then sentenced to life in prison.