Three men have been sentenced to prison by a federal judge on Tuesday after they admitted to a hate crime allegation.
The men told officials that they were “hunting black people” when they ran over and killed James Craig Anderson, 49, with their truck, according to the Daily Mail.
Anderson suffered a beating from the men and was run over by their truck outside the Metro Inn in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 26, 2011. The investigation that followed found that Deryl Paul Dedmon, 22, John Aaron Rice, 21, and Dylan Wade Butler, 23, had arrived in Jackson in order to assault members of the black community.
Each man pleaded guilty in March 2012 to one count of conspiracy and one count of committing a hate crime, according to local station WAPT 16.
On Tuesday, federal Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Dedmon to 50 years, Rice to 18 and a half years, and Butler to seven years in prison.
(Deryl Paul Dedmon)
(Left: John Aaron Rice; Right: Dylan Wade Butler)
Dedmon was at the wheel of the truck when the incident occurred. Hotel surveillance videos showed his white Jeep Cherokee, in which Rice was a passenger, leaving the hotell. Twenty seconds later, a Ford truck appeared and hurdled forward towards Anderson, who then fell under the vehicle.
Appearing in court, Dedmon apologized to the Anderson family for their violent, hate-fueled actions, saying, “I want to tell the Anderson family how truly sorry I am.”
His apology came at the heels of Anderson’s sister Barbara’s statement condemning their acts, saying that her brother’s death came “at the hands of these strangers with eyes full of hatred.”
The prosecution added that the men assaulted black people who they thought were drunk or homeless.
"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," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "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."
Seven other defendants are awaiting their hearing in related cases.