Justice Department closes investigation after failing to prove key witness lied – .

Justice Department closes investigation after failing to prove key witness lied – .

In 2017, Professor Timothy Tyson unearthed what appeared to be key evidence in one of the most haunting and gruesome murders of the Jim Crow era: a retraction from the woman at the center of the case who had accused Till for making sexual advances. at home over 60 years ago.

Yet after an exhaustive investigation, the Justice Department has now concluded that it could not prove the woman had lied to federal investigators.

Till, 14, was visiting family in Mississippi in 1955 – the scene of her fateful meeting with then 20-year-old Carolyn Bryant Donham. Testimonies for that day differ, but witnesses have claimed Till whistled at Donham as she left the market she ran with her husband. Donham testified that Till grabbed his hand and offered him an offer, saying he had been with “white women before”. Yet when this trial testimony was brought up with her in an interview in 2008, Tyson claimed that Donham told her, “That part is not true. “

The explosive claim sparked a storm of calls for the cold case to be reopened. The Justice Department had already reopened the case once and concluded in 2007 that no one could be prosecuted at the federal level based on the available evidence and the statute of limitations.

Armed with Tyson’s new allegations, federal investigators spoke to Donham again.
The aim, according to sources familiar with the investigation, was to determine whether Donham had actually retracted from her previous testimony and, if so, what other evidence she would be willing to provide that might shed light on her role. in the murder or in identifying others who may be guilty.

However, when questioned directly, Donham categorically denied investigators having retracted her testimony.

Sources say the critical statements Tyson attributed to Donham have not been recorded or transcribed, and he has given authorities inconsistent statements on whether a recording has already been made. Tyson took a few notes of their conversation, but he didn’t provide a specific timeline of when his confession allegedly took place.

When contacted for comment via email, Tyson made a long statement, sticking to his story.

“My reporting is rock solid,” Tyson said in a statement to CNN. “Carolyn Bryant denies it and avoids talking about it like it’s the plague. I stand in the public square telling the truth as I see it based on solid evidence. “

Although testimonies and recollections differ as to Till and Donham’s interaction on the day in question, the 14-year-old black teenager was ultimately kidnapped, tortured and killed by two white men who were prosecuted in court in State and acquitted. by an entirely white jury. The men later admitted to the murder in an interview with Look magazine and are now dead.

Donham could not immediately be reached for comment.

The end of the final chapter of the notorious affair is likely to leave Till’s remaining family members with more questions than answers. The image of her mutilated body, first published in Jet Magazine at her mother’s request, has been etched in the minds of many as one of the enduring images of the Civil Rights Era.

Department of Justice officials, including Civil Rights Division chief Kristen Clarke, traveled to Chicago on Monday to brief Till’s other family members in person of what investigators found and the decision to close the case, according to sources familiar with the matter. .

The Justice Department is expected to issue an official “closing note” detailing the evidence investigators examined and its findings on Monday.

This story was updated with additional reports on Monday.


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