Judge Alleges Threat

In Mississippi Case

JACKSON, Miss. -- One of Edgar Ray Killen's brothers issued an "indirect" death threat against the judge who presided over Killen's trial this year in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers, the judge said Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon said an investigator told him about a threat from J.D. Killen about a week before the trial started in June. Gordon said neither he nor the investigator pressed charges against J.D. Killen, 64. J.D. Killen disputed the assertion in an interview.

In a petition to have Edgar Ray Killen's $600,000 appeal bond revoked, Attorney General Jim Hood does not name J.D. Killen but says "a relative of Edgar Ray Killen threatened to kill the trial court judge and other individuals in the courtroom."

J.D. Killen said: "That's totally wrong. They're trying to set me up. I have never threatened anyone."

Gordon granted bond for Edgar Ray Killen, 80, last Friday, allowing the former Ku Klux Klan leader to be free while appealing his manslaughter convictions for masterminding the slayings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. The manhunt for the workers helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

Hood's petition to revoke Edgar Ray Killen's bond also mentioned a bomb threat at the Neshoba County Courthouse the day Killen was indicted on murder charges. No explosives were found.

U.S. Judge Overturns

Pa. Murder Conviction

PHILADELPHIA -- A federal judge overturned the murder conviction and death sentence of a man who has spent nearly half his life on death row, citing faulty jury instructions and a deficient defense attorney.

Herbert Baker, 44, will go free unless prosecutors retry him within six months. Baker and two accomplices were tried for a 1984 robbery that ended in the death of William Gambrell, 38. The other two men were sentenced to life in prison while Baker, the alleged gunman, was sentenced to death.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody said the trial judge erred in telling jurors that first-degree murder can apply if any of the culprits had intent to kill. Courts have since ruled that Pennsylvania law requires individual intent for someone to be convicted of first-degree murder.

* JACKSON, Miss. -- State Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., who was acquitted of bribery last week, was charged with federal tax evasion in a newly unsealed indictment, his attorney said.

* NEW YORK -- New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's office said the billionaire mayor donated $140 million to 843 organizations last year.

* LITTLE ROCK -- A federal appeals court ruled that former Arkansas governor Jim Guy Tucker cannot withdraw his guilty plea to a tax law violation related to the Whitewater investigation. Tucker pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing the value of a cable television system in Florida that he and two partners sold.

* MACON, Ga. -- Diane Shorter, 26, was charged with aggravated assault and child cruelty after allegedly leaving her full-term baby in a Wal-Mart bathroom toilet.

* PORTLAND, Ore. -- Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) signed legislation that makes Oregon the first state to require prescriptions for cold and allergy medications that can be converted into methamphetamine.

-- From News Services