- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 8, 2005

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) — Reputed Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen responded loudly with “not guilty” three times yesterday as he was arraigned on murder charges in the slayings of three civil rights workers more than 40 years ago.

He was the only person indicted in the case, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Killen lowered his voice when asked whether he could afford an attorney. He then was led off to the Neshoba County Jail to await another hearing Wednesday. He was ordered held without bond.

Mr. Killen, 79, was arrested Thursday in the 1964 shooting deaths of James Chaney, a 21-year-old black Mississippian, and two white New Yorkers, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24. The arrest marked the first time that the state has sought criminal charges in the case.

District Attorney Mark Duncan said prosecutors did not intend to publicly discuss what evidence they had developed or what role authorities believe Mr. Killen played in the killings.

Although prosecutors secured the indictment during a one-day grand jury presentation, Mr. Duncan said, “it hadn’t been fast for us. We’ve been investigating the case for several years now. It just finally got to the point where we felt like we had done all that we can do.”

At the hearing, Mr. Killen told Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon he couldn’t afford an attorney but that he did own some land. Judge Gordon said he would decide later whether he would appoint an attorney.

Soon after Mr. Killen’s arraignment, the courthouse was cleared by authorities, who said they had received a bomb threat. Nothing suspicious was found, they said later.

Democratic Rep. John Lewis, the black Georgia congressman who knew the three slain men, hailed the arrest, telling NBC’s “Today” program that it was “a tremendous step down a very long road.”

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