Mississippi — A reputed Ku Klux Klansman will remain in prison after a federal appeals court’s split ruling wiped out his acquittal in the kidnappings of two black teenagers who were slain in 1964.
James Ford Seale, 73, was found guilty in June 2007 of abducting the teens who authorities said were beaten, weighted down and thrown, possibly still alive, into a Mississippi River backwater in May 1964.
Seale was serving three life sentences in the kidnappings of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee when the conviction was thrown out last year by a panel of three 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges. The panel’s decision was overturned Friday by the entire court in an evenly divided vote.
The three-judge panel acquitted Seale of the charges in September based on the argument that the statute of limitation had expired between the time of the kidnappings and Seale’s indictment nearly 43 years later. Seale remained behind bars while the government challenged that decision.