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Fri, 02.28.2003

Another Klan Member Is Found Guilty Of Murder

Ernest Avants

*On this date in 2003, another Ku Klux Klan member was convicted of killing a Black man in 1966.

White-American Klansman Ernest Avants was found guilty of slaying Ben White, a Black sharecropper, more than thirty years ago. The trial and verdict took place in Jackson, Mississippi, for a crime prosecutors say were staged to lure Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the southern part of the state to be assassinated.

72-year-old Avants, a stroke survivor, remained seated in his wheelchair as the court decision was read. Federal prosecutors said he faces up to life in prison. The defense said it would appeal. Avants was acquitted of the murder during a state trial in 1967. The federal charge of aiding and abetting murder was filed after authorities realized recently White was killed on federal land.

White, the 67-year-old victim, was lured deep into Mississippi's Homochitto National Forest with a story about helping with a job, only to come face to face with the barrel of an assault rifle. According to prosecutors, his last words: “Lord, what have I done to deserve this?

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