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Trial Date Set In James Anderson Murder Case

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 30 Sep 2011 03:41pm | comments
Deryl Dedmon at his September arraignment.

The state has less than a month to decide if they will seek the death penalty against a white teen accused of fatally running down a black Jackson man this summer. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that more teens could be charged in connection with what officials consider a hate crime.

In a Hinds County Courtroom Friday, 19-year old Deryl Dedmon, wearing a blue prison jump suit, shuffled up to a podium before judge Jeff Weill and pleaded not guilty to capitol murder charges.

"How do you wish to plead Mr. Dedmon," Judge Weill asked. "Not Guilty," Dedmon replied.

Judge Weill set a January trial date and warned both the prosecution and defense to follow court rules regarding pre-trial publicity.

Dedmon's Defense asked for a gag order surrounding the case, which judge Weill rejected, but says he would reconsider it if the situation changes.

"I think my admonition to read the rules will suffice. And if there is a violation bring it to my attention and we will discuss it at that time," Weill said.

Defense Attorney Cynthia Stewart again handed out a written statement reminding the media that her client is innocent until proven guilty saying a gag order would preserve those rights.

"Our client is, as the sheet just handed to you shows, entitled to all the constitutional rights to any defendant charged with a crime," Steward said.

After the brief arraignment hearing Dedmon was lead out by several Hinds County Sheriff's officers and a members of his family who attended the hearing walked out in the tight group in silence, ignoring calls for comment by the gathered media.

Officials say as many as seven teens are suspected to have been involved in the attack and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith left open the possibility for more charges.

"There is still an on going, joint investigation by our office and the Justice Department. That is continuing," Smith said.

Anderson's family has asked  the District attorney not to seek the death penalty in the case.Tiral

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Deryl Dedmon at his September arraignment.


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