It was a hot Sunday morning last July when, right on schedule at 6:30 a.m., 61-year-old Johnny Lee Butts left his rural Mississippi home on his morning ritual, a 4-mile walk.
His neighbor, Otis Brooks, says Butts, a Sunday school teacher, waved as he passed his front door wearing a blue T-shirt.
Brooks remembers that his neighbor's skin tone was easily visible that morning. "You could tell he was black; you could see his arms." The point would become important later.
At nearly 7 a.m., about an hour after sunrise, three white teenagers were barreling down Panola County Mississippi Highway 310 in a white Monte Carlo. Two of the three teens later admitted they had been heavily drinking vodka and smoking marijuana all night. They were headed right toward Butts.
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