Former Klansman convicted last year in 1964 murders hospitalized

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Edgar Ray Killen is in a Jackson hospital today.

Officials and family members say the 81-year-old former Klansman convicted last year in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers has been hospitalized for complications from a severe leg injury he sustained in a logging accident.

Killen was transported from prison to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where a spokeswoman said he was fair condition as of last night.

A tree fell on Killen while he was cutting wood March 10th, 2005, near his Union home, just months before he was convicted of three counts of manslaughter in the slayings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.

The tree knocked Killen out and shattered the bones in both of his thighs. He spent the trial confined to wheelchair.

A 1967 federal trial found that the murders of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were part of a Ku Klux Klan conspiracy. Killen's case ended in a hung jury, but seven others were convicted of violating the victims' civil rights. None served more than six years.

Killen is the only person to face state charges in the case that helped focus national attention on the civil rights struggle in the South and was dramatized in the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)