Government seeks delay in trial of reputed Klansman in 1964 case

Published 7:50 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Federal prosecutors have asked for a delay in the scheduled April 2 trial of a reputed Ku Klux Klansman charged with kidnapping in the 1964 slayings of two black men in Mississippi.

In a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paige Fitzgerald cited numerous defense motions.

“The government’s motion for an extension of time to file its responses is not made for purposes of delay, but in order to adequately address the legal issues identified by the defendant,” Fitzgerald wrote in the motion.

Fitzgerald asked that the government be allowed until April 16 to file its response to the defense motions and the trial date for James Ford Seale be rescheduled.

Seale, 71, was arrested in January and has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy in the May 2, 1964, abductions of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore. The teens were hitchhiking in Meadville when they were grabbed and beaten — allegedly by Klansmen — and then drowned in the Mississippi River, according to FBI reports.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate has not ruled on several motions, including one by the defense to move the trial out of Jackson because of pretrial news coverage.

The government on Monday said it was opposed to moving the trial out of Jackson.