Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter looked ashen Thursday as he pleaded not guilty in federal court to corruption charges involving multimillionaire Dickie Scruggs.
The courtroom scene was a far cry from the days following the Feb. 5, 1994, conviction of Klansman Byron De La Beckwith, when DeLaughter drew international praise for leading the successful prosecution of the 1963 assassination of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers.
“As a journalist, I remember getting chill bumps when they returned that verdict,” said Curtis Wilkie, who covered the trial for the Boston Globe and wrote about the event in his 2001 book, Dixie.
On Thursday morning, Wilkie watched a shackled DeLaughter enter the courtroom.
“I thought it was indescribably sad,” Wilkie said. “I had admired his work in the Beckwith trial, and I wondered what he had to be thinking when he sat there by himself for about 20 minutes. … What a terrible transformation he’s gone through.”