Ex-federal prosecutor who led historic case dies

Jul 1, 2012, 6:37 PM

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) – Jack Brooks Lacy Jr., who as an assistant U.S. attorney led the first federal murder prosecution in a civil rights-era killing, has died. He was 69.

Lacy died Friday of a single bullet to the head, Rankin County Coroner Jimmy Roberts said. He said he would not have the autopsy report until Monday, but suspects suicide.

Lacy was known for his work in the 2003 conviction of former Ku Klux Klansman Ernest Avants for aiding and abetting the murder of black sharecropper Ben Chester White on federal property. Prosecutors said White, 67, was killed in the Homochitto National Forest in 1966 in an attempt to lure Martin Luther King Jr. to southwest Mississippi for assassination.

After his federal work, Lacy became assistant state attorney general for the Mississippi Band of Choctaws.

“Jack had an undying commitment to doing what was right as a public servant,” John Dowdy, criminal division chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told WAPT-TV.

“His passion over the years became serving for the betterment of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He will be sorely missed, no question,” Dowdy told The Clarion-Ledger.

Lacy’s first job was as a disc jockey after he ran out of money to attend the University of Mississippi, where he graduated in 1968 with a degree in English literature.

He taught there for 14 years before finishing law school at age 40.

In 2003, Lacy said the only reason federal prosecutors were able to bring the White case back to court was that the killing was found to have taken place on federal land. “It’s one of those incredible accidents of history,” Lacy said.

A state jury had acquitted Avants of murder in 1967.

Prosecutors said Avants and two companions offered White $2 and a soda to help them find a dog lost in the woods. White, who had no connection with the civil rights movement, was driven to a national forest, shot to death and dumped into a creek bed. His last words, according to testimony: “Oh Lord, what have I done to deserve this?”

The verdict was returned less than three hours after final arguments in the case and just three days after the trial began.

According to court documents, Avants told investigators in 1967 he had fired a shotgun blast into White’s head after another man killed him with 15 to 18 automatic rifle bullets.

Funeral plans were incomplete Sunday, according to Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, a suburb of Jackson.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

The image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows Tyre Nichols on the g...
Associated Press

Memphis authorities release video in Tyre Nichols’ death

Video showing Memphis officers beating a Black man was made public Friday after they were charged with murder in the death of Tyre Nichols.
2 days ago
Demonstrators stage a rally in front of the White House to celebrate President Joe Biden's plan to ...
Kevin Stone

Lawsuits keeping over 300,000 Arizonans from getting student loan relief

Lawsuits are preventing more than 300,000 Arizonans from having some or all of their student debt dismissed, the Biden administration said Friday.
2 days ago
FILE -  A Goodyear tire sits on display at a tire shop on Feb. 12, 2014, in South Euclid, Ohio. A f...
Associated Press

Arizona lawyer subpoenaed in criminal investigation of Goodyear tires

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles is gathering evidence in a criminal investigation of Goodyear recreational vehicle tires.
3 days ago
Following days of rain, floodwaters cover streets in the Planada community of Merced County, Calif....
Associated Press

Atmospheric rivers in California boost water allocation for cities

Public water agencies in California will be getting more water from the state because of recent heavy rain.
3 days ago
(Brian Munoz/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)...
Associated Press

FDA declines to regulate CBD; calls on Congress for fix

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday there are too many unknowns about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements under the agency’s current structure and called on Congress to create new rules for the massive and growing market. The marijuana-derived products have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods, while their […]
3 days ago
FILE - An employee works in the battery assembly hall at the BMW Spartanburg plant in Greer, S.C., ...
Associated Press

US economy slowed but still grew at 2.9% rate last quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession. Thursday’s estimate from the Commerce Department showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — […]
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Ex-federal prosecutor who led historic case dies