Conviction in Mississippi KKK Case Upheld By Appeals Court


A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of James Ford Seale, a suspected former KKK member who abducted and killed two black teenagers over four decades ago.

The cold case dates back to 1964, when Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, both 19, were kidnapped in a rural area near Natchez, Mississippi. They were beaten by Ku Klux Klansmen, after being asked about a rumor that local blacks were planning an uprising. They were then put in the trunk of a car and driven to the banks of the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, where the assailants weighted them down and threw them into the water. The teens may have been alive at the time. Their bodies were not found until several weeks later.

Seale was arrested on a state murder charge that same year, but it was later dropped—possibly because the local law enforcement was in cahoots with the Klan. The case was revived by federal prosecutors in 2005, and Seale was convicted in 2007 on one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and two counts of kidnapping. He was given three life sentences.

In 2008, the conviction was thrown out by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which cited the statute of limitations and said that two much time had elapsed between the commission of the crime and the filing of the federal charges. Yet that ruling was vacated after the entire appeals court looked at the case, and it was returned to the three-member panel so that they could rule on separate issues raised by Seale on appeal.

This time, the panel ruled 2 to 1 that the evidence upon which Seale was convicted was sufficient. The dissenting judge cited not only the statute of limitations, but also certain incriminating statements made by Seale that should have been barred from his trial.

Seale’s attorney says that they will take the statute of limitations issue to the Supreme Court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is located in New Orleans, had previously asked the high court to rule on that question, in July 2009, but the Supreme Court refused. Justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia were the only two who would have agreed to hear the case, saying that similar cold cases from the civil rights era could be potentially affected by a ruling about statutes of limitations.


Bookmark This Article:
| Delicious | Digg: Digg | Technorati: Technorati | Newsvine: Seed this article | Reddit: Add to Reddit | Furl: Add to furl | |
| Stumble Upon: Stumble This Article | Yahoo!: YahooMyWeb | Google: Google |