Raymond Foster, 49, pleaded guilty killing Cynthia Lynch, 43, who yelled 'I want out!' a day after her initiation into the white supremacist group. Foster was immediately sentenced to life in prison after his plea yesterday.
Miss Lynch, a Klan recruit from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was shot and killed in November 2008, the day after initiation rites in rural St. Tammany Parish, about 50 miles north of New Orleans.
Frankie Stafford, a former member of the Klan group, testified Monday that Miss Lynch cried tears of joy the night of her initiation. But the next day she angrily cursed Foster and yelled 'I want out!' before Foster shot her to death.
Foster's voice was shaky as he apologised to Miss Lynch's mother, Virginia Lynch, who was in the courtroom's front row. She had been present throughout the trial, weeping at times as prosecutors outlined how her daughter died.
'I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me,' Foster said to her. The plea came on the second day of what was often gruesome testimony.
Defence lawyer Kevin Linder said he believes Foster decided to plead guilty so he could spare his friends, family and Virginia Lynch the ordeal of sitting through a full trial.
In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Oubre said there was some question whether Miss Lynch knew what the Klan stood for. He noted that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, characterized by severe mood swings. Stafford testified Tuesday that he had planned to rejoin Foster's group, and gave a chilling account of Miss Lynch's death. He said he helped cut down and burn bloodstained bushes at the scene but balked at helping dig a bullet out of her body.
Stafford is serving a four-year obstruction of justice sentence after pleading guilty to helping try to cover up the crime.
The killing happened just south of Washington Parish, a hotbed of Klan activity decades ago. St Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed said Foster's Klan group was small and secretive and its existence was an embarrassment to both parishes.
Holding an evidence photo showing Foster, Lynch and others in Klan robes, he said, 'I hope the result here will tell the world that this will not be tolerated in our community.'