Seale guilty on all counts; sentencing set for Aug. 24|[06/15/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 15, 2007

JACKSON – Reputed Klansman James Ford Seale was found guilty Thursday night of two counts of federal kidnapping and one count of conspiracy in the case of the 1964 murders of Henry Hezikiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore.

Seale, 71, faces life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 24 by U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate.

The jury, which had heard testimony for more than a week, took two hours to decide that Seale and other Klansmen dumped Dee and Moore in the water of the Old Mississippi River on May 2, 1964, while they were still alive. Prosecutors said the two were kidnapped and taken while still alive across the state line into Louisiana to get to Davis Island, where they were bound by the legs and chained to weights, and dumped over the side of a boat.

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The atmosphere of the courtroom was tense, as spectators and family members rushed to get back in time to hear the verdict.

Directly after it was read, Seale turned to his wife and mouthed, &#8220You OK?” and then mouthed to his entire family, &#8220You OK?” Their faces remained unmoved during the reading.

On the victims’ side of the courtroom, people were mumbling, &#8220Yes!” after each count was read followed by the word &#8220guilty.” Tears started welling in the eyes of Charles Moore’s older brother, Thomas, and family members were hugging.

When asked outside the courtroom how he felt, Moore responded, &#8220What, you don’t see me shaking; you don’t see me crying,” as he held his trembling hand in view of video cameras.

&#8220I am rejoicing for justice in this country,” Moore said. &#8220What I want the world to know is that the state of Mississippi spoke today.”

He will be able to sleep better at night, he said, although he continues to have nightmares. Now his brother will be able to rest in peace, he said.

&#8220We’ve come a long way, baby,” Moore said.

Public defender Kathy Nester said she plans to appeal the case.

&#8220We did the best we could,” Nester said. &#8220The family is very, very disappointed.”

Members of the Seale family refused to comment.

In her closing arguments, Nester mentioned the testimony of confessed Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards, who was granted immunity for his testimony. He was the only person, other than Seale, still alive from the group accused of abducting the two teenagers.

&#8220For the past 43 years he has been lying to the government, to his wife, to the media, to us, to you,” she said. &#8220All of the sudden he decides to tell the truth.”

A man who is an admitted liar, she said, only told what the prosecution wanted to hear. After being given a lie detector test earlier in the course of the trial, Edwards failed the test and then went back that night to tell the prosecutors about Seale dumping the bodies in the river.

That testimony is what the prosecution and the jury relied on to convict Seale.

&#8220The case all relies on one man’s words,” she said.

Prosecutor Paige Fitzgerald in her final arguments also used the phrase &#8220one man’s words,” only she was describing the words of Seale himself, in an alleged confession to FBI agents in 1964.

Retired FBI agent Ed Putz said another agent told Seale the facts of the case after arresting him in ’64.

Putz said Seale replied; Yes, but I’m not going to admit it,’ you’re going to have to prove it.”

Fitzgerald also spoke about Edwards’ testimony. She said he finally told the truth after he was promised the truth wouldn’t land him in jail. Since Edwards felt bound by the Ku Klux Klan oath of secrecy over the past 43 years, why would he lie to get Seale in trouble now? Edwards testified to identifying Dee and Moore, and to beating them in Homochitto National Park while Seale pointed a sawed-off shotgun at the victims.

&#8220The terribleness of what he tells you means it is terribly, terribly true,” Fitzgerald said.