Edgar Ray Killen released from jail

A circuit judge has granted Edgar Ray Killen a 600-thousand dollar bond so the former Klan leader can be released from prison while he appeals his manslaughter convictionsin the killings of three civil rights workers.

Killen's family is trying to gather enough money or property to post the bond and get the 80-year-old part-time preacher released

Killen was convicted June 21st for masterminding the 1964 slayings of civil-rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. His conviction came 41 years to the day after the trio was mobbed and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen.

Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon heard testimony today from seven of Killen's friends and neighbors who said they believed Killen was neither a flight risk or a danger to the community.

A black jailer testified that he had felt threatened by Killen when booking him into jail after his conviction. Kenny Spencer said that when Killen was asked a standard question for new inmates -- whether he was suicidal -- Killen told him, "I would kill you before I killed myself."

However, in granting bond, Gordon cited previous cases that had been appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)