Former Black Panther gunman dies

Warren Kimbro, the former Black Panther whose murder of another party member led to a sensational trial involving the militant group's founder, has died.

Warren Kimbro, the former Black Panther whose murder of another party member led to a sensational trial involving the militant group's founder, has died.

He was 74 years old.

Kimbro died on Tuesday night at Yale New Haven Hospital, said spokesman Mark D'Antonio.

In May 1969, Kimbro shot Alex Rackley, whom the Panthers suspected of being a police informant.

Kimbro pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and served over four years in prison.

He later obtained a degree from the elite Harvard University and became a counsellor to other former inmates.

"I think he was proof people could turn their lives around," said Paul Bass, a journalist who wrote a book on the trial.

While Kimbro admitted being the first to shoot Rackley, Black Panther national leader Bobby Seale and others were also charged with either ordering or taking part in Rackley's kidnap, torture and killing.

The charges sparked a massive protest in New Haven on May Day 1970. Kimbro testified for the prosecution at Seale's trial in 1970-71. But the charges were latter dismissed.

"I think Warren Kimbro was an outstanding brother, a person who in the history of that trial got caught up in a bad situation. He was a socially conscious person. I liked him," Seale said.

A one-time high school dropout, Kimbro went on to obtain a masters degree in education from Harvard in 1975.

He led Project More, which worked to reduce recidivism by helping former inmates with drug treatment and job training.

"I don't want you to pick up a gun like me," Kimbro said at a gathering of former party members in 2001. "I want you to pick up your degrees, your positions in the legislature." - Sapa-AP

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