Case ‘won’t be re-opened’ into white woman whose lie led to black man’s lynching

John W. Milam, 35, left, Roy Bryant, 24 , center, were acquitted for kidnapping Emmett Till, whereas Carolyn Bryant Donham, right, was never charged in the case (Pictures: AP)

A white woman whose false accusation of a black teenager led to him being lynched will not face criminal charges.

Mississippi’s top law enforcement official has no plan to pursue a case against Carolyn Brant Donham, whose lies led to the kidnapping and killing of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955. 

‘There’s no new evidence to open the case back up,’ said Michelle Williams, Chief of Staff for Attorney General Lynn Fitch.

The decision comes days after a copy of Donham’s memoir was provided to reporters — and weeks after an unserved warrant for her arrest was uncovered.

The Attorney General’s office has not been in contact with prosecutors in Leflore County, where Emmett was kidnapped and Ki**ed, Williams said. The local prosecutor would be the one responsible for filing any charges against Donham.

Carolyn Bryant rests her head on her husband Roy Bryant’s shoulder after she testified in Emmett Till murder case (Picture: AP)

An investigation into the case by the US Justice Department was closed in December, Williams noted, without filing charges.

The Attorney General’s decision not to file criminal charges is significant as it comes weeks after a group uncovered an unserved arrest warrant charging Donham, her then-husband Roy Bryant and brother-in-law JW Milam for Till’s abduction.

The two men were arrested and later acquitted in Till’s slaying, all while Donham, who was 21 at the time, was never taken into custody.

In her unpublished memoir, Donham denied ever identifying Till to her husband and his brother, and said she had tried to help the young boy because she didn’t want the men to hurt him.

‘I did not wish Emmett any harm and could not stop harm from coming to him, since I didn’t know what was planned for him,’ Donham said in the manuscript, which was compiled by her daughter-in-law. ‘I tried to protect him by telling Roy that “He’s not the one. That’s not him. Please take him home.”‘

Till, who was kidnapped from his family’s home at gunpoint, identified himself to the men. His brutally beaten body was discovered days later in a river, where it was weighted down with a heavy metal fan.

His mother, Mamie Till Mobley, in a move that progressed the civil rights movement, then decided his funeral would be an open casket in order to demonstrate the horror of what happened.

Donham said that she ‘always felt like a victim as well as Emmett’ and ‘paid dearly with an altered life’ for what had happened to him.

Despite being acquitted for the crime, Donham’s husband at the time and his brother later confessed to the killing in a magazine interview.

Family of Till have continued to push for charges to be brought against Donham, who is now 87-years-old.

‘I truly believe these developments cannot be ignored by the authorities in Mississippi,’ said Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till who runs the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation.



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