BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — Jack Brooks Lacy Jr., who as an assistant U.S. attorney led the first federal murder prosecution in a civil rights-era killing, has died. He was 69.
Lacy died Friday of a single bullet to the head, Rankin County Coroner Jimmy Roberts said. He said he would not have the autopsy report until Monday, but suspects suicide.
Lacy was known for his work in the 2003 conviction of former Ku Klux Klansman Ernest Avants for aiding and abetting the murder of black sharecropper Ben Chester White on federal property. Prosecutors said White, 67, was killed in the Homochitto National Forest in 1966 in an attempt to lure Martin Luther King Jr. to southwest Mississippi for assassination.
After his federal work, Lacy became assistant state attorney general for the Mississippi Band of Choctaws.
"Jack had an undying commitment to doing what was right as a public servant," John Dowdy, criminal division chief for the U.S. Attorney's Office told WAPT-TV.
"His passion over the years became serving for the betterment of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He will be sorely missed, no question," Dowdy told The Clarion-Ledger.
Lacy's first job was as a disc jockey after he ran out of money to attend the University of Mississippi, where he graduated in 1968 with a degree in English literature.
He taught there for 14 years before finishing law school at age 40.
In 2003, Lacy said the only reason federal prosecutors were able to bring the White case back to court was that the killing was found to have taken place on federal land. "It's one of those incredible accidents of history," Lacy said.
A state jury had acquitted Avants of murder in 1967.
Prosecutors said Avants and two companions offered White $2 and a soda to help them find a dog lost in the woods. White, who had no connection with the civil rights movement, was driven to a national forest, shot to death and dumped into a creek bed. His last words, according to testimony: "Oh Lord, what have I done to deserve this?"
The verdict was returned less than three hours after final arguments in the case and just three days after the trial began.
According to court documents, Avants told investigators in 1967 he had fired a shotgun blast into White's head after another man killed him with 15 to 18 automatic rifle bullets.
Funeral plans were incomplete Sunday, according to Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, a suburb of Jackson
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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