Miss. mayor dies after losing primary

Mayor Frank Melton had a history of heart problems. Mayor Frank Melton had a history of heart problems.
Associated Press / May 8, 2009
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JACKSON, Miss. - Frank Melton, the mayor of Mississippi's largest city, died early yesterday, two days after losing a primary reelection bid and days before he was set to stand trial on federal civil rights charges. He was 60.

Melton died at a Jackson hospital with his wife by his side, city spokeswoman Goldia Revies said.

Melton had a history of serious heart problems, but officials have declined to say whether that's what sent him to the hospital Tuesday, shortly after the polls closed. Melton's lawyer said it was up to the family to disclose the cause of death.

At an emergency meeting Wednesday, the City Council tapped its president, Leslie Burl McLemore, to be acting mayor.

Unofficial results show Melton came in third out of nine candidates. The top two finishers - Harvey Johnson, the former mayor Melton unseated in 2005, and Councilman Marshand Crisler - advanced to a May 19 runoff.

Trial had been set to start Monday for Melton and a former bodyguard, who each faced two federal civil rights charges related to a sledgehammer attack on a duplex on Aug. 26, 2006, that Melton considered a crack house.

It would have been their second federal trial. A judge declared a mistrial in the first case in February after a jury failed to reach a verdict.