A man who served a prison term for the 1965 shooting death of Detroit civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo told reporters that the woman was shot with his gun by FBI informer Gary Thomas Rowe.
Eugene Thomas of Bessemer, Ala., said that on the advice of his attorney he pleaded innocent, did not take the witness stand and "took his chances" on acquittal in subsequent trials on the case.
Thomas, a Ku Klux Klan member who served six of a 10-year term on a federal conviction of violating Liuzzo's civil rights, appeared at a news conference with his lawyer and Robert Shelton, imperial wizard of the United Klans of America.
Thomas said in a notarized statement that he, Rowe and fellow klansmen William Eaton and Leroy Wilkins drove to Selma via Montgomery. In a Montgomery parking lot, the statement said, Rowe asked Thomas if he could borrow his gun because Rowe's did not work.
Rowe was a paid FBI informer at the time of the shooting. His testimony sent Thomas to prison, but Rowe was indicted last year in Lowndes County, Ala., for the killing. He currently is fighting extradition to Alabama from his home in Savannah, Ga.
Rowe denied Thomas' allegations and stuck by his story that Wilkins fired the fatal shots using Thomas' gun.