Seale given life sentence for “horrific” crimes

Published 1:25 pm Friday, August 24, 2007

JACKSON (AP) — James Ford Seale, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was sentenced Friday to three life terms in prison 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.

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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 bond while his case is appealed.

Federal public defender Kathy Nester filed a notice of appeal.

‘‘Mr. Seale maintains his innocence to this crime,’’ Nester said.

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 of Springfield, La.

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.’’

Both of them stood about 10 feet from Seale, but he never made eye contact with them.

When asked by Wingate if he had anything to say, Seale, who wore an orange jail jumpsuit and was shackled at his waist, wrists and ankles, stood, shook his head and said ‘‘No.’’

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 Klansman who received immunity from prosecution for his admitted role in the abductions and his testimony.

He testified that Seale and other Klansmen abducted Dee and Moore near Meadville, forced them into the trunk of Seale’s Volkswagen and drove them to a farm. The two were later tied up and driven across the Mississippi River into Louisiana.

Edwards said Seale told him that heavy weights were attached to the teenagers and they were then 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, largely at the urging of Thomas Moore, who researched the crime.