Klan Linked to 1966 Miss. Killing
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) _ An elated Samuel H. Bowers boasted in 1966 that ``my boys″ in the Ku Klux Klan had carried out his orders to kill civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer, witnesses testified Thursday.
The testimony came at the one-time Klan chief’s trial on murder and arson charges.
Defense lawyers later began calling a series of witnesses they hoped would discredit testimony that Bowers, now 73, ordered the firebombing and then bragged about it. He could get life in prison if convicted.
Dahmer, his lungs seared by the flames, died in his wife’s arms in 1966, hours after two carloads of Klansmen shot up and bombed their home. Prosecutor say Dahmer was killed for helping fellow blacks register to vote by letting them pay their poll tax at his grocery store.
``Look at what my boys did to that Dahmer nigger for me,″ former Klansman and one-time FBI informant Robert Earl Wilson quoted Bowers as saying while holding up a newspaper account of the attack.
Cathy Lucy, a KKK leader’s widow and a surprise witness, testified she was present when Bowers made the comment. She described him as ``smiling and jubilant.″
This is the fifth time Bowers, the former imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, has been tried in Dahmer’s death. Four previous juries, at least two of which were all-white, deadlocked during the 1960s.
Bowers did go to prison for six years for his part in one of the most notorious crimes of the era: the slayings of three civil rights workers in in Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964.