The New York Times reported today that an indictment was issued on Wednesday in a 40-year-old murder case that helped inspire the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965. Jimmy Lee Jackson was killed by Alabama state troopers, and retired trooper James Fowler has long admitted that he was the triggerman, although he claims it was in self-defense.
Sojourners magazine reported the story of Jackson’s murder in John Fleming’s article “Who Killed Jimmy Lee Jackson?” in its April 2005 issue. Fowler, who is likely the person indicted by the Alabama grand jury, told Fleming, “I don’t remember how many times I pulled the trigger, but I think I just pulled it once. But I might have pulled it three times. I didn’t know his name at the time, but his name was Jimmy Lee Jackson.”
Fowler told Sojourners in 2005 that he wasn’t afraid of being indicted. “I don’t think legally I could get convicted for murder now no matter how much politics they got ’cause after 40 years they ain’t no telling how many people is dead.” Jackson’s cousin, Carlton Hogue, responded at the time that “There ain’t no statute of limitations on murder.” He said, “That man needs to be prosecuted….”
It looks like it’s finally about to happen.
Jim Rice is editor of Sojourners magazine.