By Harry R. Weber
Sunday, August 7, 2005
ATLANTA -- A white supremacist investigated for a series of child killings that terrorized Atlanta's black community once praised the crimes in secretly recorded conversations.
Although Charles T. Sanders did not take responsibility for any of the deaths, lawyers for Wayne Williams, the black man convicted in two of the murders and blamed for 22 others between 1979 and 1981, believe the evidence will help their bid for a new trial.
Sanders -- whose older brother, Don, was a reputed officer of the Ku Klux Klan -- used a racial epithet when he told an informant for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in the 1981 recording that the killer had "wiped out a thousand future generations."
His only complaint was that the killings were prompting police roadblocks.
Police dropped the probe into the Klan's possible involvement after seven weeks, when Sanders and two of his brothers passed polygraph tests, according to documents released to the Associated Press after an open-records request.
The 315 pages show the investigation started after a source told police that Sanders said the KKK "was creating an uprising among the blacks, that they were killing the children, that they are going to do one each month until things blow up."
The source also told police that Sanders had threatened to strangle one of the children, Lubie Geter, because Geter ran into Sanders's car with a go-cart. Geter was later strangled, and Williams was blamed for his death though never charged.
Williams has long contended that he was framed and that Atlanta officials covered up evidence that the Klan was involved in the killings to avoid a race war.
His lawyers believe the materials released to the AP and other evidence they are seeking will help him get a new trial. They say the investigation into the Klan was withheld from Williams's defense.
"There is no doubt that evidence in the hands of the defense and the jury would have at the very least created reasonable doubt at Wayne's trial," said Williams lawyer Michael Lee Jackson.
Transcripts of multiple wiretapped conversations involving the Sanders family were not released. Authorities will not say whether there were any admissions in them.
In May, Louis Graham, the police chief in neighboring DeKalb County, who assisted with the original investigations, said he was reopening the investigation of five of the deaths.
Sanders, brothers Jerry and Don, and their father, Carlton Sanders, are dead, according to relatives. Reached by telephone Friday, another brother, Ricky Sanders, declined to comment.
"They had nothing to do what that stuff," said his fiancee, Michelle Eno.
Former GBI director Robbie Hamrick, who worked on the case, said he believes Williams is guilty, though he would not say Williams committed all the killings.
"I'm convinced he was responsible for the two cases he was convicted on," Hamrick said. "The others -- that's something the courts would have to decide."