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Bond granted for mayor charged in 1969 death

YORK, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Promising he will "stay the mayor," York Mayor Charlie Robertson was charged with murder Thursday in the death of a black woman during the city's race riots in 1969.

Robertson, 67, voluntarily turned himself over to police.

Robertson, who is white, was emotional in court with tears streaming down his face. He was charged with criminal homicide and -- under a statute in effect in 1969 -- with murder of the first and second degree in connection with Lillie Belle Allen's shooting death.

After his arraignment and a bond hearing, Robertson was released on a $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing was set for May 25.

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The charges are the result of a grand jury convened in September to look into a pair of unsolved killings that took place during the city's race riots.

At the time of the shooting, Robertson was a York police officer and admits he made racist comments the day before Allen was killed, yelling "white power" at a rally. But he maintains he played no part in Allen's death.

Court papers say Robertson incited white street gang members to violence and gave them ammunition.:

Allen was visiting York from South Carolina when she was gunned down July 21, 1969 in a neighborhood frequented by white gang members.

At a news conference Wednesday, Robertson, who is seeking a third term, denied the charges.

"Murder is the charge. Murder is the charge. I'm standing here in disbelief as to the charge, which they must prove, and to this, I maintain my innocence," he said.

Five others, including four former gang members have also been charged in connection with her death.

Robertson's arrest comes just two days after he won the Democratic nomination. His primary opponent was a black man. Robertson has said he will not step down from his post and promised to keep campaigning.

"I am the mayor. I will stay the mayor," Robertson said.

During the racial unrest in 1969, Henry C. Schaad, a 22 -year-old white patrol officer, was killed by a sniper.

Days later, Allen was a passenger in a car that drove into a neighborhood frequented by white gangs. The car stalled, Allen got out to take over the driving, and she was shot.


• City of York, Pennsylvania

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