PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) – A former Ku Klux Klansman accused in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers ordered fellow Klansmen to attack the three men and then went to a funeral home to create an alibi for himself, according to testimony read in court Friday.

The 1967 testimony from James Jordan – a member of the Klan turned government witness who has since died – was read to the jury on the second day of 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen’s murder trial. Jordan testified that Killen, a Klan leader, told a group of Klansmen that the three men had been arrested and ordered them to “pick them up and tear their butts up.”

Killen showed the group where the men were jailed and where to wait to hunt them down once they were released, Jordan said. He said that as carloads of Klansmen drove off to intercept the three doomed men, they stopped to let Killen off at a funeral home.

“He said he had to go there because if anything happened, he would be the first one questioned,” Jordan said in the 1967 testimony. Killen has said he was at a wake when James Chaney, a black Mississippian, and Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, white New Yorkers, were killed.

Killen later talked about the slayings to a young Meridian police officer he had sworn in to the Klan only a few months earlier, the ex-officer testified later Friday.

Mike Hatcher – who said he attended only a few Klan meetings – said Killen gave him a gun to pass on to someone else.

“He proceeded to tell me, ‘We got rid of those civil rights workers. You won’t have no more trouble out of Goatee,”‘ said Hatcher, 68, referring to the name Klan members had for Schwerner.

Killen is on trial in the deaths of the three men, who were in the town to investigate the burning of a black church. They were stopped for speeding, jailed briefly and then released, after which they were ambushed by a gang of Klansmen. The men were beaten and shot to death, their bodies found 44 days later buried in an earthen dam.

Killen stood trial on federal charges in 1967, but the all-white jury could not reach a verdict. He could get life in prison if convicted in the state trial.

Friday’s testimony was dominated by witnesses who have long since died: Because many of those who testified in 1967 are no longer available, prosecutors got permission to put their co-workers on the stand and have them read transcripts of the earlier testimony. Defense attorneys then had the stand-in witnesses read sections of the 1967 cross-examinations.

Killen, who spent Thursday night in the hospital for elevated blood pressure, was rolled into court in a wheelchair for Friday’s session. During part of the transcript reading, Killen appeared to nod off. At other times, he read along from a copy of the transcript he held in his lap.

The most emotional testimony of the day came from Goodman’s 89-year-old mother, Carolyn Goodman, who talked about how her son wanted to go to Mississippi for the Freedom Summer of 1964 to help register black voters.

On June 21, 1964, Goodman sent his parents a postcard from Meridian. Several people in the courtroom wiped tears from their eyes as Carolyn Goodman read a copy of the postcard aloud: “This is a wonderful town and the weather is fine. I wish you were here. People here are wonderful.”

Carolyn Goodman said she has hazy memories of being in Mississippi after her son was killed. “I remember the red soil and I remember he was buried here,” she said. “It was all so horrible and terrible.”

In other transcript testimony Friday, 1967 witness Carlton Wallace Miller said a local Klan chapter met before the killings and discussed whipping Schwerner.

“Mr. Killen told us to leave him alone, that another unit was going to take care of him, that his elimination had been approved,” said Miller, who was a Klansman, local police officer and FBI informant. He said Killen told the men the Klan’s Imperial Wizard had signed off on the plan to kill Schwerner.

In live testimony Friday, Mike Winstead, 48, testified that Killen admitted his involvement in the slayings to Winstead’s grandfather in 1967, when Winstead was 10.

“My grandfather asked him, did he have anything to do with those boys being killed,” Winstead said, describing a conversation the two had on his grandfather’s porch. “He told my grandfather yes, and he was proud of it.”


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