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"Justice was long delayed but with this guilty verdict justice has been served - precisely 41 years to the day that our student, Andrew Goodman, was murdered in Mississippi with his fellow civil rights workers," Muyskens said."As the plaque on our Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner clock tower states, 'their deaths inspired countless others to continue the struggle for equality and justice for all Americans.' ""We are better off because of Andy's example of sacrifice, love and courage," Muyskens said. "Although this horrific chapter in our history now comes to a close, the march toward human rights continues. Ideally, education will light the path."Muyskens spoke following the verdict delivered on Tuesday in Philadelphia, MS., finding Edgar Ray Killen, 80, guilty of manslaughter in the slaying of the civil rights workers on June 20, 1964.The jury of three African-Americans and six whites cleared Killen of a murder charge but found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.Judge Marcus Gordon has set Thursday for sentencing Killen. Each of the three manslaughter charges of which he was convicted carries a sentence of up to 20 years.The Neshoba County prosecutor told the court that Killen, a part-time minister and sawmill operator, organized the Klansmen who chased down, beat and shot to death the civil rights workers.Killen's defense attorneys said the prosecution failed to offer witnesses or evidence establishing that Killen was present when the young men were slain. Killen's lawyer said he would appeal.Killen listened to testimony from a wheelchair with tubes from an oxygen tank attached to his nose. Goodman and Michael Schwerner, both New Yorkers and white, and James Chaney, a black Mississippian, were among hundreds of young people who had gone to the South in 1964 in what has become known as Freedom Summer to promote voter registration among black people.They were forced off a rural road in Neshoba County by several carloads of men who killed them the night of June 21, 1964. Searchers found their bodies beneath an earthen dam 44 days later following an intense search that involved federal agents.The story of the events of that summer was portrayed in the movie "Mississippi Burning."Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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