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Ten sentenced in hate crime case in which African-Americans were targeted

This news story was published on July 2, 2015.
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gavel-justiceWASHINGTON – In Jackson, Mississippi, in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011, a 47-year-old African-American man—James Craig Anderson—was severely beaten and then intentionally run over with a pickup truck in an unprovoked attack by a group of white teenagers from nearby suburbs. Some of the teens yelled racial epithets during this horrific incident, a random act of hate crime violence that resulted in Anderson’s death.

The FBI’s Jackson Field Office opened an investigation, and it wasn’t long before we were able to piece together a conspiracy among at least 10 individuals who—on a half-dozen or so different occasions—made and carried out plans to target, harass, and hurt African-Americans in Jackson, specifically those they believed were homeless or under the influence of alcohol because they thought that such individuals would be less likely to report the assault.

All 10 were eventually charged with federal hate crimes. And all 10 have pled guilty and were sentenced to federal prison terms ranging from four years to 50 years. The 50-year term went to Deryl Paul Dedmon, the pickup truck driver who ran over Anderson. Dedmon was also charged in state court with murder and received two life sentences. John Aaron Rice, 22, Dylan Wade Butler, 23, Jonathan Kyle Gaskamp, 22, and Joseph Paul Dominick, 23, all of Brandon, Mississippi; William Kyle Montgomery, 25, of Puckett, Mississippi, Sarah Adelia Graves, 22, of Crystal Springs, Mississippi; and Shelbie Brooke Richards, 21, Pearl, Mississippi, were previously sentenced to 220 months, 78 months, 48 months, 48 months, 224 months, 60 months and 96 months, respectively, for their roles in the conspiracy. Robert Henry Rice is awaiting sentencing.

These hate crime incidents, which began in the spring of 2011 and occurred while the subjects were driving through Jackson—often after an evening of partying—culminated in the June 2011 death of Anderson, an auto plant worker.

Several of the subjects saw Anderson alone in the parking lot of a Jackson hotel. They stopped their vehicle and—after using cell phones to contact several other subjects who were nearby in another vehicle—got out of the car to distract their victim until their co-conspirators arrived. Once the second vehicle arrived, one individual struck Anderson in the face, knocking him to the ground. A second individual straddled the victim and struck him repeatedly in the face and head with a closed fist. Leaving Anderson lying there, they got back into their vehicles and, urged on by two of the female subjects and yelling a racial epithet, Dedmon ran over the victim on his way out of the parking lot.

Among the other hate crime incidents the subjects were charged with:

  • Chasing down and physically assaulting an African-American man walking near a golf course by punching and kicking the victim in the body, head, and face until he begged for his life.
  • After locating an African-American man in an empty strip mall parking lot, quickly accelerating their vehicle in an attempt to hit him (fortunately, the man was able to jump out of the way in time).
  • Hurling glass beer bottles at targeted victims, in one instance actually knocking a man down with the force.
  • Using a sling shot to launch metal ball bearings at various individuals, including a teenage boy riding a bicycle.

After Anderson’s death, FBI personnel from the Jackson Field Office formed an investigative team with prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney appointed from the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office. The extensive investigation involved hundreds of interviews, the execution of search warrants, search and evidence collection by the FBI Evidence Response team, video forensic analysis by the FBI Laboratory, cell phone examinations by the FBI Computer Analysis Response Team, and analysis of telephone records.

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