Security High for Killen Trial

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Neshoba County officials are beginning to work on a strategy to make sure things are as secure as possible during the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, accused in the 1964 murders of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.

As many as 150 reporters are expected to be at the trial, not to mention jurors, family members, spectators and possibly protesters.

That could make for a crowd control nightmare, but the county is trying to prepare.

Steve Wilkerson's shop is one of the main businesses on Philadelphia's Courthouse Square and he admits he's at least a little concerned about what security will be like when Edgar Ray Killen's trial begins.

"There's always going to be an opportunity for some crazy person to do something crazy," said Wilkerson.

With all the people who will be on the square during the trial, distinguishing the dangerous from the not so dangerous may be difficult, but Judge Marcus Gordon, who is presiding over the case, says it has to be done.

"We believe we have some awfully good people here. We anticipate there might be outsiders come in who would cause trouble," said the judge.

But county officials say they're working on a plan they hope will prevent that from happening.

Sheriff Larry Myers says at least 50 officers from the Sheriff's Office, the Police Department and the Highway Patrol will be there to take care of the crowds.

"We're going to have a plan to take care of a major situation, even if no major situation happens," Myers said.

That's good news for Wilkerson, who says he has every confidence local law enforcement will get the job done.

"I think they are very professional and they'll handle it in a way that will be second to none," Wilkerson said.

Judge Gordon has asked Sheriff Myers and Philadelphia Police Chief David Edwards to have a memo to him by May 1, detailing exactly what security measures will be taken during the trial.

Myers says the courthouse will be secured 24 hours a day once the trial starts. He also says the sequestered jury will be under heavy security. Streets around the courthouse will also be under constant watch in case someone tries to detonate a bomb.


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