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Justice arrives in '64 murders

Reputed klan member James Ford Seale, 72, gets three life terms in two men's deaths.

Published August 25, 2007


JACKSON, Miss. - James Ford Seale, a reputed member of the Ku Klux Klan, was sentenced Friday to three life terms for his role in the 1964 abduction and murder of two black teenagers in southwest Mississippi.

Seale, 72, was convicted in June on federal charges of kidnapping and conspiracy in the deaths of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, two 19-year-olds who disappeared from Franklin County on May 2, 1964.

The young men's bodies were found more than two months later in a backwater of the Mississippi River.

Seale showed no emotion as U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate read his sentence.

Wingate told Seale the crimes committed 43 years ago were "horrific" and "justice itself is ageless." Wingate denied a defense motion to allow Seale to be free on bail while his case is appealed.

Federal public defender Kathy Nester filed a notice of appeal.

During the hearing, one of Dee's sisters and Moore's brother talked about how the violent deaths affected them and their families.

"I don't have no hate in my heart, but I'm happy for justice," said Dee's sister, Thelma Collins.

Thomas Moore read from a prepared statement directed at Seale.

"I hope you perhaps spend the rest of your natural life in prison thinking of what you did to Charles Moore and Henry Dee and how you ran for a long time but you got caught," he said. "I hope the spirit of Charles and Henry come to your cell every night and visit with you to teach you what is meant by love of your fellow man."

Wingate agreed to assign Seale to a prison where his health needs can be met. He has cancer, bone spurs and other health problems.

The prosecution's star witness against Seale was Charles Marcus Edwards, a confessed klan member who received immunity from prosecution for his admitted role in the abductions.

He testified that Seale and other klan members abducted Dee and Moore, forced them into the trunk of Seale's Volkswagen and drove them to a farm. Edwards said Seale told him heavy weights were attached to the teenagers and they were dumped alive into the river.

Seale was arrested on a state murder charge in 1964, but the charge was later dropped. Federal prosecutors say the state charges were dropped because local law enforcement officers in 1964 were in collusion with the klan.

Federal prosecutors revived the case in 2005.

[Last modified August 24, 2007, 23:04:07]

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