Willie Edwards Jr.

Background

At 25 years old, Edwards was a Winn Dixie truck driver. On January 23, 1957, Edwards was abducted by Klansmen and was ordered to jump off of the Tyler-Goodwin Bridge into the Alabama River.

Legal Status

In 1976, Klansman Raymond Britt confessed to the crime. Sonny Kyle Livingston, Henry Alexander, and James York were charged with the murder. However, Judge Frank Embry dismissed the case stating that the cause of death was not determined. In 1997, as a result of requests by Willie Edwards’ daughter Malinda Edwards, District Attorney Brooks, working with State Medical Examiner Dr. James Lauridson opened a fresh investigation into the case. Based on Edwards’ remains, Dr. Lauridson ruled the cause of Edwards’ death to be homicide caused by having been forced to jump into the Alabama River 41 years earlier by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Brooks filed a motion to have Edwards’ death certificate reflect Dr. Lauridson’s findings. Judge Charles Price ordered the Alabama Department of Vital Statistics to change Edwards’ cause of death from unknown to homicide.

District Attorney Brooks took the case back to the Montgomery County Grand Jury in 1999. The Grand Jury declined to return an indictment.