Ex-klansman freed on bail in 1964 killings

Aug. 12, 2005 at 11:31 PM

PHILADELPHIA, Miss., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The man sentenced to 60 years in a Mississippi prison for his part in the murder of three civil rights workers was released on bail Friday pending appeal.

Edgar Ray Killen, 84, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, has been in prison for six weeks. Because of his age and state of health, he could remain free for the rest of his life, the New York Times reported.

Judge Marcus Gordon, who presided over Killen's trial for the 1964 killing of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, said prosecutors had not showed that Killen is a flight risk or a danger to the community. Gordon said the law required him to grant bail.

Schwerner's widow, Rita Bender, disagreed.

"To me this indicates a lack of understanding of the seriousness of, and conveying the seriousness of, crimes of racial violence," she told the Times in a telephone interview.

Killen, his brother and five friends put up property to secure the $600,000 bond.

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