Avants Gets Life Sentence

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A reputed Klansman was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his part in the civil rights-era murder of a black sharecropper.

Ernest Avants is a stroke victim who suffers from congestive heart failure. He has been hospitalized almost constantly at the Fort Worth Federal Medical Center in Texas since his conviction in January in Jackson, Miss.

Prosecutors say he killed Ben Chester White in 1966 to try to lure the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Mississippi for an assassination attempt.

Federal Judge William Barbour said he imposed the maximum sentence because Avants showed no remorse in the brutal slaying. Barbour said "I hope that when Mr. Avants' generation has finally died, I hope the feeling of hatred against black people will have died with them.''

Defense attorneys had asked the judge for the possibility of parole in less than 15 years, saying Avants was in poor health and has a wife and young child.