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Tue, 01.26.1932

Ernest Avants, Segregationist, and Murderer born

Ernest Avants

*Ernest Avants is acknowledged on this date in 1932.  He was a white-American segregationist and murderer.

He was the reputed Ku Klux Klansman convicted in a 1966 murder that prosecutors say was part of a failed plot to assassinate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Avants was convicted for his role in the murder of Ben Chester White, a black sharecropper. Prosecutors said the killing was intended to lure King to Natchez, Miss., where he was to be assassinated.

King did not visit Natchez after White's slaying but was assassinated by James Earl Ray two years later in Memphis, Tenn. Avants was acquitted of murder in a 1967 state trial. Years later, authorities filed a federal charge of aiding and abetting murder after realizing that White was killed on federal property. A federal court jury in Jackson, Miss., convicted Avants, the lone survivor of three white men who the government said took part in the killing, and sentenced him to life in prison.

He died on May 17, 2004, in a Fort Worth prison serving a life sentence. The cause of death was complications from heart disease, according to his attorney, Tom Royals.

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