Three plead guilty to hate crime charges

March 22, 2012 at 9:07 PM
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JACKSON, Miss., March 22 (UPI) -- One day after pleading guilty to a racially motivated killing, a Mississippi man was back in court Thursday to plead guilty to federal hate crime charges.

Deryl Dedmon, 19, admitted in Hinds County Court Wednesday he killed James Anderson in a hit-and-run motor vehicle collision in June 2011 in Jackson, Miss., because Anderson was black. Dedmon, John Rice, 19, and Dylan Butler, 20 -- all of Brandon, Miss. -- pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Jackson to federal hate crime charges in an assault that led to the death of Anderson, the Justice Department said in a release.

Dedmon, Rice and Butler each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The maximum penalty for the charges is life in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Justice Department said.

Circuit Judge Jeff Weill Sr. sentenced Dedmon Wednesday to two life sentences, for murder and for the hate crime.

"All the hard work we have done to move our state forward from that earthen dam in Neshoba County to here has been stained by you," Weill told Dedmon at the sentencing, a reference to the nearby lynching of civil rights workers James Chaney, Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964.

Dedmon apologized to Anderson's family at the sentencing.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith told The (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger Dedmon's case was the state's first successful conviction involving an enhanced penalty for a hate crime.

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