Criminal Justice

Seale Gets Life in 1964 Case

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A reputed member of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi was sentenced today to three life terms for his role in abducting, beating and killing two black teenagers in 1964.

James Ford Seale, 72, was convicted in June on federal charges of conspiracy and two counts of kidnapping concerning the deaths of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. The two 19-year-old hitchhikers disappeared in Franklin County on May 2, 1964 and were reportedly abducted by a group of Klansmen, taken to a forest and beaten and then tossed, bound and weighted but still alive, into the Mississippi River to drown.

Seale’s wife, as well as his attorney, say he maintains his innocence and will appeal.

Seale was arrested in 1964 for murder, but then the case was dropped. Federal prosecutors say this happened because authorities at the time were in collusion with the Klan, reports the Associated Press. The case is one of dozens of unsolved civil-rights-era crimes that federal authorities are now reportedly reinvestigating.

Dunn Lampton, the U.S. attorney in Jackson, Miss., said “the trial and verdict in the Seale case shows that Mississippi has changed since the 1960s,” reports the Clarion-Ledger. “Those inside the courtroom saw an example of that change, he said, when a Klansman in handcuffs appeared in front of a black federal judge.”

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