The Death of Willie Brewster: Where are they now?
by John Fleming
Editor at large
Mar 25, 2009 | 14543 views |  0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hubert Damon Strange

As it turned out, Damon Strange never served a day in prison. Violence followed him even in the wake of his conviction in December 1965.

While he was free pending the appeal, he was fatally shot during a fight with an Anniston mechanic named Billy Claude Clayton in 1987.

Johnny Ira DeFries

After DeFries was acquitted by a Calhoun County jury in February 1966, he disappeared from public view until 1973, when he was convicted of killing Calhoun County resident John C. McVeigh.

Sentenced to life in prison, he later escaped but was recaptured. He was eventually placed in the St. Clair Correctional Facility where he died in September 2003.

J.B. Stoner

Stoner represented a number of Klan and other white supremacist leaders during the civil rights movement. He ventured into Alabama for a variety of reasons. Alabama Bureau of Investigation agent Harry Sims was assigned to clandestinely follow him on more than one occasion. In 1980, he was convicted for the 1958 bombing of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham. He served three and a half years. A Georgia native, Stoner died at age 81 in 2005. Months before his death in a Georgia nursing home, Stoner ranted to a reporter from the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he wished he could go outside and make a segregationist speech.

Clarence Lewis Blevins

In the wake of DeFries' acquittal and numerous delays in setting his trial date, Calhoun County District Attorney Clarence Williams chose not to prosecute Blevins.

Blevins moved to Huntsville and then to the Florida Panhandle. Court records show he once pointed a gun at one daughter and accidentally shot another. In 1998, he was indicted for firearms violations and attempting to solicit the murder of his former wife. He's currently in a federal detention center in Yazoo City, Miss., and is scheduled to be released this April. Efforts to obtain an appointment with Blevins were unsuccessful.

Jimmie Glen Knight After the trial, Knight spent time in prison for burglary. After being released in the late 1960s, he left Calhoun County, living in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Mexico, according to his wife, Betty Knight.

"Jimmie lived a life of fear," she said. "From the time of the Willie Brewster shooting, until he died, he lived in fear of what some of those people (involved in the shooting of Brewster) would do to him. He was always aware of who was around him."

Knight died in Texas of natural causes in 1999.

William Rozier

Rozier, a friend of key prosecution witness Jimmie Glen Knight, was a known affiliate of the Klan during the 1960s. The brother-in-law of Damon Strange, he testified for the defense in both the Strange and the Johnny DeFries trials.

At 77 years old today, he lives a quiet life in Anniston, visiting friends and family and dining out occasionally.

Though reluctant to be interviewed, Bill Rozier does want to make one thing clear: He has separated himself from not only the violence but also the ideology he was associated with in the past.

"My heart is in a different place today," he said. "I am sorry, I am very sorry I was ever involved in any of those segregationalists' activities."

A dedicated member of a local integrated congregation, Rozier says, "I am in union with the Lord these days. My life now is for others, and I am in an entirely different place than before."

Kenneth Adams

It was from Kenneth Adams' filling station on West 15th Street in Anniston where much trouble bubbled during the civil rights movement. In 1956, he was the ringleader of a group of white men who attacked Nat King Cole during a performance in Birmingham. He is also credited with organizing an attack on Freedom Riders in Anniston on Mother's Day 1961. He threatened and accosted many people over the years, including H. Brandt Ayers, the publisher of The Anniston Star. He was an associate of J.B. Stoner, offering him lodging when he was in town for the trials of Strange and DeFries. He died of natural causes in 1990 at age 69 at his home in Calhoun County.

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The Death of Willie Brewster: Where are they now? by John Fleming
Editor at large

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