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On this day in 1997

Dec. 22, 1997

Myrlie Evers and Reena Evers-Everette cheer the jury verdict of Feb. 5, 1994, when Byron De La Beckwith was found guilty of the 1963 murder of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers. Credit: AP/Rogelio Solis

The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction of white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers. 

In the court’s 4–2 decision, Justice Mike Mills praised efforts “to squeeze justice out of the harm caused by a furtive explosion which erupted from dark bushes on a June night in Jackson, Mississippi.” 

He wrote that Beckwith’s constitutional right to a speedy trial had not been denied. His “complicity with the Sovereignty Commission’s involvement in the prior trials contributed to the delay.” 

The decision did more than ensure that Beckwith would stay behind bars. The conviction helped clear the way for other prosecutions of unpunished killings from the Civil Rights Era.



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