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Ex-Klansman testifies about whipping black teens

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Brandon
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« on: June 06, 2007, 01:31:21 pm »

Ex-Klansman testifies about whipping black teens
POSTED: 10:50 a.m. EDT, June 6, 2007
Story Highlights• Ex-Klansman testifies about whipping black teens
• Boys hit 30-40 times with switch
• Reputed Klansman James Ford Seale faces kidnapping, conspiracy charges
• Teens were dumped alive into Mississippi River in 1964





JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) -- A cousin of a reputed Klansman testified Tuesday that they abducted and attacked two black teenagers in Mississippi more than 40 years ago.

Before Charles Marcus Edwards testified, defendant James Ford Seale rocked back and forth vigorously in a maroon leather chair. But as Edwards described the events leading to the teenagers' 1964 deaths, Seale sat still and stared at his cousin, a Baptist deacon.

Edwards has been granted immunity to testify in the federal kidnapping and conspiracy trial of Seale, 71, the latest of more than a dozen Jim Crow-era cases to be revived across the South since the early 1990s.

Edwards testified that Seale trained a sawed-off shotgun on Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore as the two 19-year-olds were whipped in a remote area of the Homochitto National Forest.

The Klansmen believed Dee was a member of the Black Panthers, Edwards said. The Klan had heard rumors that black militants were stockpiling guns for an uprising, he said.

Dee and Moore were hit 30 to 40 times each over half an hour with switches about as big around as a finger, he said.

"I guess we had to give them a spanking to get them to testify where (the guns) were," Edwards said.

Edwards said it was his idea to pick up Dee and question him about the gun rumors. Dee came under suspicion because he had recently spent time in Chicago and often wore a black bandanna.

Of Moore, Edwards said: "He was just a victim of circumstances. We wasn't after him."

Edwards testified that Clyde Seale, James Ford Seale's father, was the head of the local Klan and swore Edwards into the white supremacist group. The younger Seale has denied belonging to the Klan; Clyde Seale is dead.

Edwards also described a conversation with Dee during the beating: "I asked him was he right with the Lord."

Federal prosecutor Paige Fitzgerald asked him why.

"I figured he wasn't going to make it," Edwards responded.

Fitzgerald then asked him what he thought would happen to Dee and Moore.

"They'd be put away," he said. Asked to be more specific, he said: "Well, they'd be killed, I guess."

Dee and Moore were "very much" alive the last time Edwards saw them, he said. James Ford Seale and other Klansmen took the two black teenagers to Clyde Seale's farm, Edwards testified.

A month to six weeks later, Edwards said, he heard James Ford Seale talk about the young men's fate.

Edwards said the defendant put duct tape on Dee and Moore, put them in a plastic-lined trunk, and with other Klansmen took them across the border into Louisiana, where they were dumped into the Mississippi River still alive.

Public defender Kathy Nester said Edwards can't be believed.

"Frankly, every time he has ever told this story, he has told it differently," Nester told U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate.

A jury of eight whites and four blacks is hearing the trial. Attorneys say the case could last at least a week. Relatives of Seale and the victims have been in the courtroom.

Seale, a former crop-duster from Roxie, pleaded not guilty to the charges when he was arrested in January.

Seale and Edwards were arrested in 1964 in the deaths of Dee and Moore. But the FBI was consumed by the "Mississippi Burning" investigation of three civil rights workers, and the Dee-Moore case was turned over to local authorities, who threw out all charges against Seale and Edwards.

The Justice Department reopened an investigation in 2000. The FBI closed the case again in 2003 but reopened it in 2005.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/06/06/kkk.coldcase.ap/index.html

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