Earnest Gilbert, FBI informant,feared his fellow white supremacist Ku Klux Klansmen so that he never had the courage to testify about the brutal 1964 murders of two black teenagers. Now, after his death, his voice is finally being heard in court.
Prosecutors in a revived civil rights-era case are trying to persuade a federal judge to allow a television interview that Gilbert gave in 2000 to be used as evidence in the upcoming trial of reputed Klansman James Ford Seale. Gilbert died in 2004.
On May 2, 1964, 19-year-old Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee were abducted, beaten, weighted down and thrown into the Mississippi River to drown.
Seale, 71, was arrested in January and has pleaded not guilty to two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy. Jury selection begins May 29, and the judge is deciding whether prosecutors can show the Gilbert video clips during the trial.
Prosecutors say Seale and Gilbert and were both high-ranking Klan members at the time of the slayings, and Gilbert implicated Seale to FBI agents.
A black lawman from Louisiana testified Tuesday that he befriended Gilbert and acted as a "go between" when ABC producers began urging Gilbert to tell his story.
Eddie Stewart Jr. told the court that he did not know Gilbert was involved in the Klan until he got a late-night call in 2000 from Gilbert, who said "that I was the only person he trusted" and he needed advice.
Gilbert said he was so scared of the Klansmen involved in the murders of Dee and Moore that he always carried a pistol in his back pocket, Stewart said.
"He called some names," Stewart testified. "James Seale, Clyde Seale, Jack Seale and Earnest Parker."
James Ford Seale is the only one still living.
At time Moore and Dee were abducted and killed, the FBI was consumed by the more highly publicized search for three civil rights workers and turned the Seale case over to local authorities. The charges were thrown out.