Interview with William Bradford Huie


William Bradford Huie:

John Whitten, yes. John Whitten, as I say, was 36 years old. He knew who I was. I knew his cousin, Jamie Whitten in Congress. So we quickly established a rapport, and uh, I told him what I was for there. I said, now this is four months after the trial. And I told him that I wanted to find the truth over there, and I thought it would be better for the community, everybody if the truth were told. All sorts of myths were being published. Forty or fifty uh, reporters from all over the world had been down there, highly publicized trial, and because nothing had been established at the trail, everybody interviewed various people and all kinds of rumors were being published as truth and so forth about great congregations of white men who had beaten somebody in a barn or something. So I, I told John Whitten, I said, "John, the truth—whatever the truth is—ought to be told." And I said, "I assume these two white men that you represented, you defended," uh, he said, "Well, you know that we, we all defended them. All the attorneys in town defended them." He said, "You know my clients uh, some of them uh, were interested in it. They wanted me to defend them and, and in a sense told me I could charge them a little extra, you know, I'm talking about farm equipment companies and that sort of thing, uh, to defend these boys." So he said, we uh… I said, "I had never met them." Says, "Actually I've been on the other side of the docket, you know. We represent the city, we represent the county, and we had, we had prosecuted them a couple of times for selling, uh, selling liquor to, to black people in their stores." So he says, "I'd been on the other side of the docket with them." But said, uh, "We were, we did defend them." And I said, "Well, I assume they killed the boy, didn't they?" And Whitten looked at me and he says, "You know, Bill," he says, "I don't know whether they did or not." He says, "I never asked them." I said, "You mean you defended them in court for a crime here, and you never, you never ques-…" He says, "I never questioned the men." He says, "I didn't want to know." He says, "Because my wife kept asking me if they killed him. And I kept telling her no." And he says, "I didn't want them to tell me that they did, because then I'd have to tell my wife that they did, or tell her a lie, so I, so I didn't even want to know." And I said, "Well did any of them?" He said, "No, none of us questioned them. We don't know what they were. See, we all—all we did was defend them, which the community wanted us to do and so forth. We defended them. We didn't put them on the stand. Nothin', they sat back in the crowd. We never put them on the stand. We just let the state present its case, and we showed, we just punched holes in it. And then we presented 100 character witnesses. So that was the only defense that we, that we had. We didn't, we, so we never had to question the defendants."