Trials: A License to Kill

It looked and sounded like a family reunion. To be sure, Tom Coleman was on trial for killing a Yankee civil rights worker. But no one gathered in the slave-built, whitewashed Lowndes County courthouse — least of all the paunchy, gum-chewing defendant — allowed that to interfere with the civilities. There, grinning across the court room, was Coleman's nephew, Robert Coleman Black, one of his defense attorneys. A defense witness was a first cousin. Mrs. Kelley Coleman, the court clerk, was a cousin by marriage. The defendant's own name even appeared on...

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