Former Alabama state trooper, James Bonard Fowler, 77, plead guilty to misdemeanor manslaughter Monday in a civil rights-era murder case. District Attorney Michael Jackson feels as if this case served as one of many catalysts for the 1965 Selma-Montgomery march. Fowler was being tried for the 1965 murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson during a voting-rights related protest in Marion, AL. Jackson was beaten as well as shot and according to documents, died a few days later.
President of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, AL, Richard Cohen, believes that, "The Jimmie Lee Jackson case is one of the most significant civil rights cold cases". Jackson's shooter remained unknown until 2005 when Fowler admitted to shooting Jackson in self-defense when he and other troopers had been called to the protest. Fowler has now been sentenced to six months in jail.
Although this case is not as well-known as other civil-rights cases, Jimmie Lee Jackson's death is often cited by groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Don Cochran, a professor at the Cumberland School of Law says that, "In a lot of these cases, it would be difficult to try them even two weeks after they happened, especially in self-defense cases...your witnesses, a lot of them are just gone." Many feel as though it is still important for cases like these to be pursued, because these wounds should, "...still be healed".
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