Thirty-two years after ordering the murder of Mississippi civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer Sr., long-time Klan leader Samuel Bowers was handed a life sentence in the firebombing attack.
Bowers, the one-time imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, had been tried four previous times for the murder, but every trial ended in a deadlock. This August, new witnesses testified that Bowers had ordered a "No. 4," Klan code for an assassination, in retaliation for Dahmer's role in helping blacks register to vote.
Bowers, now 73, had earlier faced all-white juries, but in the latest trial, five blacks, one Asian and six whites were on the panel.
"Oh, this is a happy moment for us," said Dahmer's widow, Ellie Dahmer, now an election official in Mississippi. "It is a moment we have been waiting for about 30 years."
A month after the conviction, Deavours Nix, another former Klan member who was scheduled to stand trial in the Dahmer slaying, died of lung cancer.
Bowers, who could be eligible for parole in 10 years, earlier served six years for the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers.