Cellmate: Reputed ex-Klansman granted legal power

By Holbrook Mohr/The Associated Press

JACKSON – A black man says Edgar Ray Killen, a reputed Ku Klux Klan leader imprisoned for three civil rights workers’ deaths in Mississippi, gave him a power of attorney and land rights when they shared a prison cell.

Former cellmate James Stern said at a news conference Thursday that he also owns book and movie rights to Killen’s life story. Stern said he transferred 40 acres of Killen’s land last month to a nonprofit under his control.

Killen’s lawyer, Robert Ratliff, says Killen denies signing over anything to Stern.

Ratliff says he’ll defend Killen’s property rights because he’s 87, has a brain injury and people try to exploit him or profit from being associated with him.

Killen is serving 60 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1964 deaths.