James Craig Anderson

A Mississippi judge on Feb. 10 gave three men lofty prison sentences, ranging to as high as 50 years, for their involvement in a hate crime that left a Black man dead after being beaten and run over by a truck in 2011.

According to the U.S Department of Justice, U.S District Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Deryl Paul Dedmon, 22, to 50 years in prison; John Aaron Rice, 21, to more than 18 years and Dyland Wade Butler, 23, to seven years.

All of the defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Bryd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act in the death of James Craig Anderson, according to CNN.

The three men admitted to harassing African Americans in the Jackson area, beginning in the spring of 2011. They would often target Blacks that were homeless or intoxicated, to decrease the risk of getting caught.


On June 25, 2011, around 5 a.m., Rice, Butler and their other teenage friends noticed Anderson was in the parking lot of a motel. They thought he would be a prime target because he appeared drunk, so they distracted him before Dedmon arrived in his pick-up truck, according to NBC News.

Dedmon and Rice proceeded to bludgeon the hapless victim, before Dedmon drove over the victim, killing him. At the time of the incident, CNN obtained surveillance video from the motel and aired the killing. The news prompted several large marches and vigils in the town of Jackson.”The defendants targeted African-American people they perceived as vulnerable for heinous and violent assaults — hate crimes, motivated solely by race, that shook an entire community and claimed the life of an innocent man,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

“These sentences bring a fitting end to the case against these three men. Although nothing can erase the grievous harms inflicted, or ease the grief of the victim’s friends and loved ones, this outcome holds those responsible for these horrific crimes fully to account,” he added.

The three defendants were part of a larger group of 10 White people, who have not all entered pleas, according to USA Today.


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