As Mississippi Murder Trial Opens, KKK Leader Arrives as Greeter


When accused killer Edgar Ray Killen arrived Monday morning at the Neshoba County Courthouse in Mississippi, a well-wisher from out of town greeted him. “Anything I can do,” said J.J. Harper of Cordele, Ga., imperial wizard of the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who clasped Killen’s fingers in a handshake as the 80-year-old defendant exited a white Mercury Grand Marquis. As Killen, who uses a wheelchair because of a tree-cutting accident earlier this spring, was wheeled into the courthouse about 8:45 a.m., someone was heard yelling, “Good luck, preacher!”

Jury selection resumed today at the courthouse in the case against Killen, the sawmill operator and part-time preacher who’s pleaded innocent to three counts of murder in the June 21, 1964, Klan killings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. Twenty-eight of the more than 120 potential jurors who appeared Monday have been asked to return, joined by 57 new potential jurors. Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon said he expects testimony won’t begin until Thursday in the trial that could last two weeks.


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