Former Trooper Surrenders in West Alabama Civil Rights-era Slaying

MARION, Ala. (AP) - A former state trooper surrendered today on a murder charge in the 1965 shooting death of a black man, a killing during a civil rights protest that led to historic marches at Selma and passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Former trooper James Fowler, who contends he fired in self-defense in a struggle over a gun, was charged with first-degree and second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson.

The first-degree charge is for a killing that is intentional, while the second-degree charge is for one that is unintentional. A jury could pick either.

Fowler, who is 73 and lives in Geneva, was allowed to remain free on a 250-thousand dollar property bond.

District Attorney Michael Jackson, no relation to the victim, said Wednesday that in probing the four-decade-old case he learned that Fowler also shot a detainee to death in 1966 at the city jail in Alabaster and struck his trooper supervisor in 1968.

Alabama Department of Public Safety records show that Fowler was fired in September 1968, but do not indicate the reason.

Fowler said little other than describing himself as a farmer.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a protest leader in Selma, said he was gratified to learn of the indictment.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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