MOBILE, Ala. — Former Ku Klux Klansman Benny Jack Hays collapsed with chest pains during his murder trial today when a former Klan associate described the slaying of a black teen-ager, and the judge declared a mistrial.
The 72-year-old defendant, who relatives said has a history of heart trouble, became ill 15 minutes after the prosecution's key witness, James (Tiger) Knowles, began his second day on the witness stand.
Paramedics treated Hays in the courtroom before taking him to the emergency room at the University of South Alabama. Hays never lost consciousness during the emergency treatment that interrupted the fifth day of the trial for him and co-defendant Frank Cox, his son-in-law.
Hays' attorney said he was willing to proceed with the trial, but Circuit Court Judge Michael Zoghby said he had no choice but to grant a prosecution motion for a mistrial.