Jerry Mitchell’s story begins by focusing on the Beckwith prosecution:
Evers’ brother, Charles, said he’s saddened to see DeLaughter plead guilty. In prosecuting Beckwith, DeLaughter “lost a lot of friends,” he said. “To me, it’s such a terrible thing to see him go out like this. I just hope when the judge sentences him, he will look at the good things he’s done in the past, not just with Medgar.”
Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham said DeLaughter’s prosecution of Beckwith paved the way for the pursuit of other cases, including his successful prosecution of two Klansmen who helped bomb a church, killing four girls.
On Monday, Jones and others met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the pursuit of these unpunished killings from the civil rights era. “Bobby DeLaughter’s legacy will live long past this mistake,” Jones said.
On Thursday, the crowded courtroom included Beckwith’s son, Byron Jr., who stood so DeLaughter had to walk by him. “I made my point,” he explained later.
After the hearing, Durkin said his client maintains he followed the law in his rulings in the legal fees case.
But DeLaughter “apologizes,” Durkin said, for lying to FBI agents about ex parte communication he had about the lawsuit with Peters, who served as Hinds County’s district attorney for more than two decades.
“I hope one mistake doesn’t ruin all other good deeds,” Durkin said. “Even heroes make one mistake, and that’s a big mistake.”
Kirksey doesn’t regard DeLaughter as a hero.
“Bobby DeLaughter is a convicted felon, and he has disappointed the bench, the bar and, more importantly, his own family,” he said.
Another Wilson attorney, Charlie Merkel of Clarksdale, who attended Thursday’s hearing, said he couldn’t “imagine a more despicable act by a judicial official.”
DeLaughter’s plea shows the story told by now jailed and disbarred members of Scruggs’ legal team is true, Merkel said.
Patsy Brumfield’s account of the DeLaughter plea hearing is here.
WLBT sought a reaction to the DeLaughter plea from Phil Bryant at the Neshoba County Fair:
“I’ve known Bobby DeLaughter for many, many years and this is a great surprise to me. He was a courageous prosecutor when I was a deputy sheriff and a good judge. It’s heart-breaking to see this system but I think we got to look very close at where we are at in our justice system,” said Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant.
Although I may have missed it, none of the stories mentioned that DeLaughter’s lawyer said he’d resigned his judicial position the morning of the afternoon plea change.