JACK ELLIOTT JR., Associated Press
JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Three young white men who admitted they were out hunting black people to attack when they beat, ran over and killed a 47-year-old car plant worker in Mississippi’s capital city were sentenced Tuesday to federal prison following a hate crimes investigation.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Deryl Paul Dedmon to 50 years; John Aaron Rice to 18 ½ years; and Dylan Wade Butler to seven years on the most serious of the counts against them, commission of a hate crime. Dedmon, 22, Rice, 21, and Butler, 23, are all from Brandon, Mississippi.
Dedmon also faces two life sentences in state prison. He pleaded guilty in a Mississippi court in 2012 to capital murder and hate crime.
“What these people did was ugly, painful and sad and criminal,” Reeves said.
They were charged in the June 2011 death of James Craig Anderson.
All three, wearing red prison jumpsuits and shackled at the waist and ankles, took to a podium to apologize to members of Anderson’s family for their actions. “I want to tell the Anderson family how truly sorry I am,” Dedmon said.
The apologies came after an impassioned condemnation of their actions from Anderson’s sister. Barbara Anderson Young said her brother’s death came “at the hands of these strangers with eyes full of hatred.”
She said her brother “helplessly fought to stay alive” as he was attacked by people he did not know.
“My God have mercy on your sinful souls,” Young said.
Prosecutors said the youths harassed or assaulted people who they thought were homeless or intoxicated. Victims were chosen because they thought they would not tell police, authorities said. The harassment began in April 2011, culminating in the death of Anderson.
The three pleaded guilty in March 2012 to one count of conspiracy and one count of committing a hate crime. Each was sentenced to five years on the conspiracy count to run concurrent with the other.
In Dedmon’s case, Reeves said the federal sentenced would run concurrent with his state sentence. Dedmon was at the wheel of a truck that ran over Anderson in the parking lot of a Jackson hotel. The scene was caught on a security camera at the hotel.
The surveillance video, obtained by The Associated Press and other media, shows a white Jeep Cherokee in which Rice was allegedly a passenger leaving a hotel parking lot at 5:05 a.m. Less than 20 seconds later, a Ford truck backs up and then lunges forward. Anderson’s shirt is illuminated in the headlights before he disappears under the vehicle next to the curb.
Before sentencing the three, Reeves told the courtroom that the Anderson’s death reflected the “inhumanity of racism” with which Mississippi has dealt throughout its history.
Seven others are awaiting sentencing.
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