Miss. mayor's civil rights trial delayed

Jan. 13, 2009 at 9:04 AM
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JACKSON, Miss., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The civil rights trial of Jackson, Miss., Mayor Frank Melton has been delayed after doctors testified he is gravely ill, observers said.

Melton, 59, is accused by federal prosecutors of violating the rights of a homeowner by allegedly ordering that his duplex, a reputed drug den, be destroyed by young men wielding sledgehammers. U.S. District Court Judge Dan Jordan ordered Monday that Melton's health problems warranted a trial delay until Feb. 2, USA Today reported.

In the ruling, Jordan said Melton's doctors diagnosed him with "severe congestive heart failure and hypertension."

Clergy gathered on the steps of Jackson City Hall Monday to pray for Melton's health as he recovered from a recent hospital stay at his family's home in Tyler, Texas, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. The newspaper quoted John Reeves, Melton's attorney, as saying the mayor was expected to return to Jackson later this week.

Prosecutors allege Melton broke several windows of the home with a large stick and ordered several young men accompanying him to destroy the residence using sledgehammers while two armed police bodyguards stood by.

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