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Killen Faces Jail Again While Appealing '63 Killings

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Killen Faces Jail Again While Appealing '63 Killings

Law

Killen Faces Jail Again While Appealing '63 Killings

Killen Faces Jail Again While Appealing '63 Killings

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Mississippi's attorney general asks the state's supreme court to revoke Edgar Ray Killen's bond after learning that Killen's brother threatened to kill the judge before the trial began. A Mississippi judge freed Killen on bond last week, as he appeals his conviction in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers.

SUSAN STAMBERG, host:

Edgar Ray Killen may be back in jail soon. Last week, a judge ordered the 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klan member released on bond while he appeals the recent manslaughter conviction for his role in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers. But now the attorney general of Mississippi has asked the state Supreme Court to revoke Killen's bond after learning that Killen's brother threatened to kill the judge before the trial began. Jerry Mitchell has been following the story for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi.

Good morning to you, Mr. Mitchell.

Mr. JERRY MITCHELL (Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi): Good morning.

STAMBERG: Killen was convicted of manslaughter in June, so why has the judge decide--why did the judge decide to release him on bond?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, the appeal has to be perfected before you can request appeal bond, and that's why it took a little bit of time between the...

STAMBERG: And what--yeah.

Mr. MITCHELL: ...court decision and now.

STAMBERG: Uh-huh. What can you tell us about the threat to kill that judge?

Mr. MITCHELL: According to the judge, he confirmed that the threat was made by Mr. Killen's brother, J.D. Killen, and the authorities were so concerned about J.D. Killen during the trial, it actually had law enforcement officials sticking by his side at all times.

STAMBERG: And when was the threat made?

Mr. MITCHELL: The threat was made just prior to the trial that began June 13th, several days before that, the judge said. He said that what he was told by a highway patrol investigator was that J.D. Killen had made the statement he had a gun and would use it on him.

STAMBERG: Uh-huh, but we're just learning about this now, so how come the judge didn't tell about that threat...

Mr. MITCHELL: Well...

STAMBERG: ...before this?

Mr. MITCHELL: ...actually, the authorities knew about the threat, but this is part of the evidence now the state's trying to present to keep--in an effort to keep Edgar Ray Killen behind bars, showing it's indicative of he and his family's propensity to threaten others and other things. For example, Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of threatening a woman over the telephone back in 1975 and went to prison for that. And J.D. Killen, back in January, after his brother was arraigned in the case, attacked a TV cameraman.

STAMBERG: Is Mr. Killen's brother going to face charges on his threat to kill the judge?

Mr. MITCHELL: He ...(unintelligible) has.

STAMBERG: Excuse me?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, not on the judge, but on the attack on the cameraman, he actually has been convicted of assault.

STAMBERG: But what about the threat to kill the judge?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, the person he made the statement to, from what I understand, has not been willing to testify.

STAMBERG: I see.

Mr. MITCHELL: So therefore, it's not gone forward.

STAMBERG: Yeah. Very quickly now, what does the prosecutor think that the brother's threat--why should that threat make Killen a greater threat to society?

Mr. MITCHELL: Again, I think he was trying to show that it's indicative of his family. I mean, certainly you can't hold a brother's actions against that person, but given the history of Edgar Ray Killen, I think it was why the attorney general brought that up in his motion to revoke the bond.

STAMBERG: Thanks very much. Jerry Mitchell, a reporter for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi.

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