Juror Recalls '67 Trial

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Harmon Rasberry, who will turn 91 soon, still recalls details of the 1967 trial in which 19 people faced charges of violating the civil rights of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. Seven defendants were convicted and served time in prison. The jury was hung 11-1 in Killen's case.

Rasberry confirmed that one of the factors that led to the federal government's failure to convict Edgar Ray Killen was that Killen was a preacher.

"I well remember one lady saying that they couldn't convict a preacher. I don't know who it was, but I remember that remark," said Rasberry.

Rasberry says there was no question in jurors' minds about the seven defendants who were convicted.

"Not to my knowledge, it wasn't. The way I felt about it there wasn't any," he said. "I felt like some of them, in my opinion, were guilty. They were guilty."

Rasberry acknowledges he is surprised to see the case against Killen come back up some 37 years after the first trial.

The former juror says it is appropriate to re-arrest Killen, or others, even 37 years later. At the same time, he reaffirmed his faith in the American system of justice and cautioned not to prejudge the case.

"Under our Constitution we have a right, there ain't no limitations to murder, and so if they've got enough evidence to arrest him, they might have enough evidence to try him," Rasberry said. "Today he is not guilty. He's just like me and you sitting here, he is not guilty. just because he's been arrested don't make him guilty in sight of the law. The jurors are the ones to say whether he's guilty or not guilty. We can't say that."

Unlike 1967, it appears this time a jury may be called on to provide that answer.


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