Grand Jury Declines To Indict The White Woman Who Accused Emmett Till Of Inappropriate Behavior, Leading To His Murder
Emmett Till is shown lying on his bed.
Bettmann / Getty Images

A grand jury in Mississippi won’t indict the white woman whose accusations against 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 led to his murder.

The Leflore County grand jury declined to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham following seven hours of testimony, saying there was insufficient evidence to indict the 88-year-old for her role in Till’s kidnapping and death, CNN reported. District Attorney Dewayne Richardson released a statement announcing the decision.

“After hearing every aspect of the investigation and evidence collected regarding Donham’s involvement, the Grand Jury returned a ‘No Bill’ to the charges of both Kidnapping and Manslaughter,” Richardson said in the statement. “The murder of Emmett Till remains an unforgettable tragedy in this country and the thoughts and prayers of this nation continue to be with the family of Emmett Till.”

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, had previously said her office wouldn’t reopen Till’s case, upsetting Till’s relatives, The Daily Wire reported last month. Fitch’s chief of staff, Michelle Williams, told The Associated Press at the time that “There’s no new evidence to open the case back up.”

Williams also told the outlet that Fitch’s office was not in contact with Leflore County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson, the prosecutor who would have to issue the warrant against Donham.

Till’s family members were understandably upset by the Mississippi AG’s decision not to prosecute, with Till’s cousin, Deborah Watts, telling reporters that “the person that holds the responsibility for prosecution is Dwayne Richardson, which is the 4th district DA, and that’s who we need to hear from.”

“Justice delayed should not be justice denied,” Watts added. “So we just ask them to look at all of the evidence.”

In late June, Richardson wouldn’t provide The Associated Press with a comment about prosecuting Donham, but did point to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) report in December saying it found no evidence that Donham had ever lied about Till and that prosecuting her would not be possible.

The DOJ explained at the time that in 2017, federal investigators began looking into whether Till’s accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, admitted to lying about what, if anything, actually happened between her and Till. The DOJ concluded, however, that it found no evidence Donham had ever lied, closing the case without any arrests. In its case document, the DOJ said it could not prosecute Donham or anyone else because it had “not uncovered any new evidence that would change its conclusion from its 2004 investigation that it was not able to bring federal charges against [Donham] in connection with Till’s abduction and murder.”

Another issue the DOJ faced was that the statute of limitations had run out for all “potential federal crimes that could apply to Till’s abduction and murder, and there is no other potential basis for federal jurisdiction,” the Department said. This includes prosecuting Donham for allegedly lying on the stand or making false allegations against Till.

Till was brutally beaten and shot in the head by J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, Donham’s then-husband, after she made the allegations against him. They were arrested but acquitted by an all-white male jury in Mississippi in an era before the Civil Rights movement, so no one has been held accountable for one of the most famous potentially false accusations of misconduct of all time.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Grand Jury Declines To Indict The White Woman Who Accused Emmett Till Of Inappropriate Behavior, Leading To His Murder