updated 6/13/2007 10:54:31 PM ET 2007-06-14T02:54:31

Attorneys for a reputed Ku Klux Klansman concluded their case Wednesday without his testimony on kidnapping and conspiracy charges in the 1964 deaths of two black Mississippi teenagers.

Witnesses called on behalf of James Ford Seale, 71, included his younger brother and an Alabama forensic pathologist who testified he studied autopsy reports on the two young men but could not draw any conclusions about how they died.

Don Seale — who said he has not been on good terms with his brother in recent years — testified that in 1964 James Ford Seale was roughed up in custody after his arrest on state charges in the deaths of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore.

"He had some sore ribs and red spots on his face where something had happened," said Don Seale.

State charges against James Ford Seale were dropped. Federal prosecutors say local law enforcement officers in 1964 were in collusion with the Klan.

Prosecutors believe Seale took part in abducting, beating and dumping Dee and Moore in southwest Mississippi's Franklin County on May 2, 1964. Dee was a lumber mill worker, and Moore was a college student.

As Don Seale testified, jurors were shown an affidavit that James Ford Seale filed in 1965, swearing that he had been hit by Mississippi Highway Patrol Officer Ford O'Neal during the arrest the previous November.

Prosecutor Paige Fitzgerald objected to jurors’ being shown the affidavit, which she said was a "self-serving, unreliable statement by the defendant at a time when he had a motive to fabricate."

On Tuesday, Ed Putz, a now-retired FBI agent who watched the Highway Patrol officers arrest James Ford Seale in 1964, testified that he neither heard nor saw anyone strike Seale as he was taken into custody.

Don Seale testified that he knew nothing about whether any of his relatives had ever belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.

Relatives seen in Klan robe in photo
On computer screens in the courtroom, prosecutors displayed a color photo of Jack Seale, another brother, wearing a red Klan robe — an image that has been shown to jurors several times since the trial started last week. Don Seale at first said he did not recognize the man in the picture, so Fitzgerald took him a paper copy of it.

Don Seale then acknowledged it was Jack Seale, but repeated he had no knowledge about whether James Ford Seale had been in the Klan.

"As far as me knowing, lady, I didn't know," Don Seale said to Fitzgerald.

Don Seale said "half of Franklin County" was thought to be in the Klan in 1964.

As Don Seale spoke, the two brothers appeared to avoid eye contact with each other across the courtroom. Don Seale said he was testifying only because defense attorneys had issued a subpoena for him.

The defense rested after James Ford Seale told the judge he had chosen not to testify. Closing arguments were set for Thursday. If convicted, Seale faces life in prison.

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