De La Beckwith v. State

Full title:Byron De La BECKWITH, VI v. STATE of Mississippi

Court:Supreme Court of Mississippi

Nos. 94-KA-00402-SCT, 91-IA-01207-SCT.

Date published: Mar 26, 1998


Medgar Evers, first Field Secretary for the NAACP in the State of Mississippi was shot in the back and murdered in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 12, 1963. Byron De La Beckwith, VI was arrested and charged with the murder on June 23, and indicted by the grand jury of Hinds County in July of 1963. He was twice tried in February and April of 1964. In each case, a hung jury necessitated a mistrial. Following his second trial, Beckwith was released on $10,000.00 bond. An order granting a nolle prosequi of the indictment, signed by the three circuit judges of the Seventh Circuit Court District was entered, without objection of the defendant, on March 10, 1969.

 In December of 1990, the Hinds County grand jury again indicted Beckwith for the murder of Evers. He was extradited from Tennessee to Mississippi and incarcerated in the Hinds County jail without bail. Following an interlocutory appeal to this Court, he was tried and convicted in 1994 for the murder of Medgar Evers and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Feeling aggrieved by the jury’s verdict, Beckwith appeals to this Court.



The murder of Medgar Evers was a horrible and shocking crime. However, no matter how revolted we may be by the crime or the criminal, this Court must not be deterred from fulfilling our role as the protector of the rights of every defendant. If we let egregious trial errors go unchecked in a case just because we strongly believe that the defendant is guilty, we open the door for an innocent person’s rights to be trampled when he is wrongfully accused. The trial court committed reversible error in ruling on the numerous blatantly intentional discovery violations in this case, depriving Beckwith of his right to a fair trial. I would reverse the conviction of murder and sentence of life imprisonment and remand the matter to the Hinds County Circuit Court for a new trial.

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