Reaction to Trial Delay

With the Edgar Ray Killen murder trial set to resume Friday morning, Newscenter 11 asked family members of the 80-year-old defendant about his condition.

"He's about the same," said Jerry Edwards, Killen's stepson.

Killen's younger brother, J.D. Killen, did not want to comment.

Family members of the three civil rights workers who were killed had this to say about the delay.

"I'm not a doctor and I have absolutely nothing beyond what you have," said Rita Schwerner Bender, Michael Schwerner's widow.

"Yes, I know the man is ill, but I think he's just playing on his illness," said Barbara Daily, James Chaney's sister.

Betty Dahmer is the daughter of the late civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer of Hattiesburg. In 1998, former Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers was convicted for the 1966 firebombing which led to the death of her father. Dahmer, who plans to attend most, if not all of the trial, says she's hopeful that the trial will proceed as planned.

"As long as Mr. Killen has breath in his body, I feel this case needs to be pursued," said Betty Dahmer.

Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp of New York agrees. Recently, he put together the documentary that ultimately led to the Emmitt Till murder case being reopened. Now back in Mississippi to sit in on some of the Killen trial, Beauchamp says solving these old murder cases is important.

"You know, it has been a lot of things continuing to happen throughout this country when it concerns racism and lynchings and things of that sort," Beauchamp said. "You keep wondering why these things continue to happen, the reason being is because we're so eager to forget our past."

The Killen trial is set to resume at 8:30 a.m. Friday.


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