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Originally published Monday, April 22, 2013 at 4:42 PM

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Court rejects appeal in Arkansas triple killing

A white separatist who plotted to set up a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest lost an appeal Monday in which he sought a new trial for murdering an Arkansas family.

The Associated Press

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. —

A white separatist who plotted to set up a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest lost an appeal Monday in which he sought a new trial for murdering an Arkansas family.

Chevie Kehoe was sentenced to life in federal prison for the 1996 robbery and slayings of three people living in the small town of Tilly. His accomplice, Danny Lee, was sentenced to be executed.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis turned away Kehoe's argument that his lawyer was wrong to have tried to get as many black people on the jury as possible, on the theory they would be less likely to impose the death penalty.

Kehoe, of Colville, Wash., argued that he had ineffective counsel, but a three-judge panel disagreed.

Kehoe and Lee, of Yukon, Okla., were convicted of murdering gun dealer William Mueller, his wife Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell. Their bodies were found in a backwater of Illinois Bayou north of Russellville.

Prosecutors said they were trying to build an arsenal to further their plan to carve out their own nation.

Prosecutors said Kehoe and Lee engaged in a number of other illegal activities, including the bombing of City Hall at Spokane, Wash., and a shootout with Ohio police that was videotaped by a police car-mounted camera and broadcast nationwide.

Lee has also appealed his conviction and sentence.

The men were convicted in federal court in Little Rock in May 1999 of capital murder, racketeering and conspiracy. The latter charge was for their plot to overthrow the federal government and set up the whites-only nation.

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