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Ex-Klansman Gets Nearly 26 Years

September 30, 1998

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Former Ku Klux Klansman Joshua England promises to work against the group he says led him to shoot three black teens outside a nightclub _ once he’s out of federal prison.

England on Tuesday received the maximum prison sentence of nearly 26 years. He admitted firing 11 times into a crowd of about 30 people outside Club Illusion on Oct. 27, 1996.

``I will speak out against racism and gangs like the Ku Klux Klan,″ England said in a statement to U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson.

England, 20, and a friend had earlier attended a Klan rally and drank. England had said he opened fire after some in the group made insulting gestures and threw something.

England pleaded guilty in July to three counts of civil rights violations and one weapons count. Though he cooperated with investigators, ``he cannot escape strong punishment,″ Assistant U.S. Attorney Brucie Hendricks said.

She asked for the maximum of 25 years and eight months without parole ``to send a message to others″ considering racially motivated hate crimes.

The three victims, all of whom recovered, were not in court Tuesday, when England read handwritten letters of remorse.

``I allowed myself to be influenced and manipulated by the KKK and its leader,″ England said. ``I wasn’t raised to hate anyone based on their skin color, and the only place I learned such racial hatred was from the hate group that I was a part of: The Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.″

England’s mother, Sherry Eidson, said during the hearing that her son was not a KKK member.

``He’s just a boy influenced by someone he should not have been influenced by,″ she said. ``He’s a good boy and a sincere boy and I love him.″

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