Motion to be argued today in Fowler case
by John Fleming
Editor at Large
Nov 08, 2007 | 1771 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Defense attorneys for an Alabama state trooper accused of murdering a man during a 1965 Civil Rights protest will argue in court today that those charges be thrown out.

Attorneys for James Bonard Fowler say that too many defense witnesses have died in the 42 years since the incident, leaving their client at a disadvantage.

George Beck of Montgomery and other defense attorneys also plan to argue that the trial be moved from the small Black Belt town of Marion because pre-trial publicity has made it impossible for their client to receive a fair trial.

Fowler, 73, of Geneva, was indicted in May by a Perry County grand jury on first- and second-degree murder charges in the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler does not deny shooting Jackson, but argues that it was in self defense.

Beck says he also will object to the way the local district attorney was able to convince the grand jury to indict Fowler.

“We have some concerns with their procedure,” said Beck. “We’ve got some problems with their investigation or the lack thereof. We don’t feel like they did a very good job.”

Earlier, Beck had objected to the composition of the grand jury that indicted Fowler, but now says that if the data on the racial make-up of the grand jury supplied to him by the local district attorney is accurate, that will no longer be an issue.

The incident, in a downtown Marion restaurant, proved to be a watershed moment during the Civil Rights Movement. According to witness accounts from the time, state troopers and local police beat peaceful marchers in and around Marion’s town square on the night of Feb. 18, 1965. During the violence, a handful of troopers, including Fowler, entered a nearby restaurant called Mack’s Café. Jackson was shot during an ensuing melee.

Partly in response to Jackson’s death on Feb. 26 of that year, Movement organizers assembled marchers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge a few days later, where they were beaten and tear-gassed by state troopers, an event broadcast nationwide that came to be known as Bloody Sunday. The Selma-to-Montgomery March quickly followed which many historians credit with helping to bring about passage of the Voting Rights Act.

District Attorney Michael Jackson has dismissed the argument that the defense is crippled because too much time has passed, saying that he brought the case forward, in part, because there is no statute of limitations on murder.

“That kind of delay normally helps the defendant,” he said. “It hurts the state more than it hurts the defense.”

He also argues that he and his office have done a thorough job of investigating Jackson’s killing.

“I feel confident the judge will see things our way,” he told The Star. “We are well prepared for this.”

Jackson also told the Associated Press that, “In order for the defense’s assertion that the delay was intentional by the state, the court would have to believe that the state intentionally placed its own ability to prosecute this matter in jeopardy so that ‘beneficial’ defense witnesses would be lost,” Jackson said.

One potential witness to the violence that occurred outside the restaurant in Marion the night of the shooting died on Nov. 2.

Pinky L. King is listed in an FBI file as being treated at a hospital for injuries received along with a number of other people including Cager Lee, Jimmie Lee Jackson’s grandfather, and Viola Jackson, Jimmie’s mother.

Pinky King’s daughter, Annie King of Marion, said her mother, who she described as “mostly a quiet person,” had talked to her about the incident in the past.

“She told me that she got hurt, got beat up, coming out of the church that night,” said Annie King. “She said she got hit on the head and suffered some kind of injury to her foot.”Motion to be argued today in Fowler case

By John Fleming

Editor at Large

11-08-2007

Defense attorneys for an Alabama state trooper accused of murdering a man during a 1965 Civil Rights protest will argue in court today that those charges be thrown out.

Attorneys for James Bonard Fowler say that too many defense witnesses have died in the 42 years since the incident, leaving their client at a disadvantage.

George Beck of Montgomery and other defense attorneys also plan to argue that the trial be moved from the small Black Belt town of Marion because pre-trial publicity has made it impossible for their client to receive a fair trial.

Fowler, 73, of Geneva, was indicted in May by a Perry County grand jury on first- and second-degree murder charges in the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler does not deny shooting Jackson, but argues that it was in self defense.

Beck says he also will object to the way the local district attorney was able to convince the grand jury to indict Fowler.

“We have some concerns with their procedure,” said Beck. “We’ve got some problems with their investigation or the lack thereof. We don’t feel like they did a very good job.”

Earlier, Beck had objected to the composition of the grand jury that indicted Fowler, but now says that if the data on the racial make-up of the grand jury supplied to him by the local district attorney is accurate, that will no longer be an issue.

The incident, in a downtown Marion restaurant, proved to be a watershed moment during the Civil Rights Movement. According to witness accounts from the time, state troopers and local police beat peaceful marchers in and around Marion’s town square on the night of Feb. 18, 1965. During the violence, a handful of troopers, including Fowler, entered a nearby restaurant called Mack’s Café. Jackson was shot during an ensuing melee.

Partly in response to Jackson’s death on Feb. 26 of that year, Movement organizers assembled marchers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge a few days later, where they were beaten and tear-gassed by state troopers, an event broadcast nationwide that came to be known as Bloody Sunday. The Selma-to-Montgomery March quickly followed which many historians credit with helping to bring about passage of the Voting Rights Act.

District Attorney Michael Jackson has dismissed the argument that the defense is crippled because too much time has passed, saying that he brought the case forward, in part, because there is no statute of limitations on murder.

“That kind of delay normally helps the defendant,” he said. “It hurts the state more than it hurts the defense.”

He also argues that he and his office have done a thorough job of investigating Jackson’s killing.

“I feel confident the judge will see things our way,” he told The Star. “We are well prepared for this.”

Jackson also told the Associated Press that, “In order for the defense’s assertion that the delay was intentional by the state, the court would have to believe that the state intentionally placed its own ability to prosecute this matter in jeopardy so that ‘beneficial’ defense witnesses would be lost,” Jackson said.

One potential witness to the violence that occurred outside the restaurant in Marion the night of the shooting died on Nov. 2.

Pinky L. King is listed in an FBI file as being treated at a hospital for injuries received along with a number of other people including Cager Lee, Jimmie Lee Jackson’s grandfather, and Viola Jackson, Jimmie’s mother.

Pinky King’s daughter, Annie King of Marion, said her mother, who she described as “mostly a quiet person,” had talked to her about the incident in the past.

“She told me that she got hurt, got beat up, coming out of the church that night,” said Annie King. “She said she got hit on the head and suffered some kind of injury to her foot.”
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