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This Day in Georgia History

August 31, 1964

Trial in Lemuel Penn Murder Case Began

To view video on the Lemuel Penn case, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

The trial of Joseph Howard Sims and Cecil William Myers began in Madison County superior court in Danielsville, Georgia. They were two of three Athens Klansmen accused of murdering Army Reservist Col. Lemuel Penn. [See July 11 entry for information on the murder.] At the trial’s conclusion, an all-white jury acquitted the two defendants. Federal prosecutors could not re-try Sims and Myers for murder, so they subsequently charged the two with violating Penn’s civil rights under federal law and the 14th Amendment. Tried in federal district court in 1966, Sims and Myers were found guilty and sentenced to ten years in federal prison (though released after six years).