Grand Jury Convened

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A grand jury has convened Thursday in Philadelphia to hear evidence in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers.

It is the first time a grand jury in Mississippi can consider murder charges in the June 21, 1964, killings of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney.

Attorney General Jim Hood arrived at the Neshoba County courthouse with members of his staff. He declined to comment. Hood's office says the attorney general will comment after the grand jury session ends. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public.

Eight of those accused in the case are still alive. Reputed Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen, identified in testimony in a 1967 federal conspiracy trial as having coordinated the killings, is reportedly the focus of the renewed investigation.

Killen, 79, has denied any involvement in the killings. Goodman's mother, Carolyn, who lives in New York, says she never thought she'd live to see the day that charges were brought.

The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported on its website that, among people standing outside the grand jury is Harry Wiggs, who was a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer in 1964 in Neshoba County.

The attorney general's office and local prosecutors have been investigating the case for several years.