MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ A former Alabama state trooper wants to be released early from his six-month jail sentence for killing a man at a civil rights demonstration 46 years ago.
Court papers say James Bonard Fowler, 77, needs to get out after serving slightly more than half his sentence because he has medical problems that need immediate attention. The court papers do not describe the problems.
District Attorney Michael Jackson said he opposes an early release because Fowler worked out a plea deal that required him to serve six months and apologize to the family of Jimmie Lee Jackson.
“Given the historic nature of this case, it would be an outrage to release him,'' Jackson said Thursday.
Jimmie Lee Jackson's slaying was one of the cold cases from the civil rights era until Michael Jackson became the county's first black district attorney and reopened the investigation. He got a murder indictment against Fowler in 2007.
Witnesses at the time said Jackson was trying to protect his mother and grandfather, who had been clubbed to the floor in Mack's Cafe in Marion, Ala., after a protest march from a church turned chaotic on the night of Feb. 18, 1965. Fowler said he fired in self-defense when Jackson went for the trooper's gun.
The shooting prompted a march that was supposed to go from Selma to Montgomery, but marchers were beaten by troopers in Selma in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.'' The Selma-to-Montgomery march was completed later under federal protection and led to Congress passing the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which opened Southern polling places to blacks.
Jackson pleaded guilty Nov. 15, 2010, and began his sentence Dec. 1 in his home county in southeast Alabama.
When Fowler entered his plea, he told reporters that he wanted to get the case behind him because he needed shoulder surgery. His attorney did not return phone calls Thursday about his client's condition.
Geneva County Sheriff Greg Ward said privacy laws prevent him from discussing an inmate's medical condition. He said Fowler has not required hospitalization, but has seen the jail nurse several times. The sheriff said Fowler's medical needs were being taken care of.
The district attorney said that Geneva County has ample provisions for medical care, and that Fowler should stay in jail through the end of May.
Circuit Judge Tommy Jones has not scheduled a hearing on Fowler's request.