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4:30pm ET, 4/16


Evers' brother on assassin's death: 'Glad it's all over'

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) - The death of his brother's assassin is no reason to rejoice, but neither is it cause for sorrow, Charles Evers tells CNN.


Byron de la Beckwith, convicted in 1994 of gunning down Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers in 1963, died Sunday night after being taken to a hospital from his jail cell. He was serving a life sentence for the sniper-style shooting.

"No one loves to see someone die," Evers said in an interview Monday, "even Byron de la Beckwith."

The 78-year-old Evers spoke by phone as he drove his truck in Mississippi, where he is general manager of a Jackson radio station.

"I'm glad it's all over," Evers added. "Maybe we all can go on and enjoy life now."

"I don't rejoice in his death, but I'm not sorry, either."

Killer was 'disrespectful' during trial

Evers said he didn't attend Beckwith's trial because he was so angry over the defendant's "disrespectful" demeanor, as shown during television coverage.

"He was disrespectful toward the family," Evers said. "I couldn't have controlled myself if I had been in the courtroom."

"I didn't want to embarrass myself or the family."

In a February 1997 online chat hosted by CNN Interactive, Evers said he regretted that he had not been with his brother on the night he was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson home.

"I left him when I should have stayed there with him," Evers said. "If I had been there, he wouldn't have gotten shot because I always carry protection. I regret that. That's why I've done all I can to ensure that he didn't die in vain."

Civil rights pioneer

Charles Evers was, like his martyred brother, one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement. Charles Evers became the NAACP's State Voter Registration chairman in 1954 but was driven from Mississippi two years later by angry whites.

After Medgar Evers' assassination in 1963, Charles Evers took over his brother's leadership role and began drives to register blacks.

Several years later, Evers made history when he was elected as the first black mayor in Mississippi. He also served as an informal adviser to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan.

Just back from attending inauguration

Evers said Monday he had just returned from Washington and the inauguration of George W. Bush as the nation's 43rd president.

Evers, who calls himself a "Charles Evers Republican," said it was important to be at the inauguration because Bush "is the president of all of us."

In his interview Monday, Evers also said he hopes there are no other Byron de la Beckwiths: "We hope he's one of the last outright bigots left."

Prosecutor: Case provided closure for family, state

Bobby DeLaughter, the prosecutor who succeeded in getting a conviction of Beckwith after two mistrials decades earlier, told CNN on Monday that the guilty verdict "provided important closure for the Evers family and for the state of Mississippi."

The publisher Scribner has just released a book written by DeLaughter: "Never Too Late: A Prosecutor's Story of Justice in the Medgar Evers Murder Case."

DeLaughter said the book, in addition to examining the assassination and the various investigations of it, is a "story of growth, healing and reconciliation."

Now a judge in Hinds County, Mississippi, DeLaughter declined to comment on Beckwith's death. But he said the Beckwith case was a "black eye for the people here for far too long and needed to be rectified."

How some famous cold murder cases got solved
January 20, 2000

MWP: Medgar Evers (1925-1963)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

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