FEBRUARY 5, 1994

Myrlie Evers and her daughter, Reena Evers-Everette, cheer the guilty verdict. Credit: Rogelio Solis/Associated Press

A jury convicted Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers.

The conviction happened after the jury saw evidence that included Beckwith’s fingerprint on the murder weapon and hearing six witnesses share how he had bragged about killing Evers.

The judge sentenced Beckwith to life in prison.

Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers, had prayed for this day, and now that it had come, she could hardly believe it.

“All I want to say is, ‘Yay, Medgar, yay!’” She wiped away tears. “My God, I don’t have to say accused assassin anymore. I can say convicted assassin, who laughed and said, ‘He’s dead, isn’t he? That’s one n—– who isn’t going to come back.’ But what he failed to realize was that Medgar was still alive in spirit and through each and every one of us who wanted to see justice done.”

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.