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Three Mississippi Men Plead Guilty to Federal Hate Crime Charges

By Daniel Cherry | Published 22 Mar 2012 07:45pm | comments

Three white Mississippi men could serve life in prison for their involvement with the beating and fatal rundown of a black man. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how all three have pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges.

One by one Dylan Butler, John Aaron Rice, and Deryl Dedmon stood wearing handcuffs and leg shackles before U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves. All said they were guilty of charges of conspiracy to commit a hate crime and committing a hate crime. Daniel McMullen is the Special Agent in Charge for the FBI in Mississippi. He says through exhaustive investigation, the three men will be brought to justice.

"It was because of their efforts that we've reached this point today. Deryl Dedmon, John Aaron Rice, Dylan Butler have acknowledged and pleaded guilty for their actions, which on June 26th 2011, led to the death of James Craig Anderson."

According to the Department of Justice, the three men sought out African Americans to harass before running over and killing James Craig Anderson. John Dowdy, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, says this case should send a message to others that hate crimes will be prosecuted.

"The swift and certain investigation shows we will not tolerate these kinds of crimes in Mississippi in the present state of our nation and our state. We're better than that as a people."

Under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the maximum sentence for committing a hate crime is life in prison. Dedmon already pleaded guilty to state murder charges and will serve two life sentences. The other two men involved will have to wait and see what Judge Reeves hands down during sentencing. Tom Perez is an Assistant U.S. Attorney General. He says more charges could be on the way for others involved.

"Let me be clear about our work in this particular case. Yesterday's plea and today's guilty pleas of the three defendants mark an important milestone, but our work is not finished, our investigation continues, and I fully expect additional activity. We will not rest until every responsible individual is brought to justice."

There will be a sentencing hearing for the three men in early June.

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