Rainey Pool

Background

On April 12, 1970, Rainey Pool, a 54 year old sharecropper from the town of Midnight in Humphries County, was killed by a group of white men. The group of men assaulted Pool, rendering him unconscious, and loaded him in a pick-up truck. The men then threw Pool into the Sunflower River. One of the perpetrators claimed Pool, who had one arm, was trying to to take something from his truck. Police found Pool’s body two days later.

Pool suffered fractured vertebrae and larynx. The pathologist who preformed the autopsy said it was unclear whether Pool was alive or dead when he was thrown into the river.

Legal Status

In 1970, police detained four suspects, one of whom confessed. Indictments followed, but on the request of the prosecutor, in July 1970 the state circuit court granted a nolle proseque.

After twenty-eight years, in 1999 at the request of Pool’s family the case was revived. Seven white men were thought to be responsible for Pool’s death. Two were dead by the time of the fresh investigation. Dennis Newton was acquitted by a jury and, Joe Oliver Watson pled to manslaughter and agreed to testify against the remaining men. In November 1999 James “Doc” Caston, 66, his brother Charles Ernie Caston, 64, and his half-brother Hal Spivey Crimm 50, were convicted of manslaughter by a state jury and sentenced to serve 20 years in prison. The sentences were the maximum allowed by law for manslaughter.