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Teenager Who Murdered Black Man Is Sentenced to Life – NYTimes.com (Participation)

March 22, 2012

White Teenager Who Drove Over and Killed Black Man Is Sentenced to Life

By KIM SEVERSON

Published: March 22, 2012

ATLANTA — Deryl Dedmon, a white teenager who drove a pickup truck over a black man in the parking lot of a Jackson, Miss., motel, pleaded guilty to murder on Wednesday and was sent to prison for life.

He is expected to answer federal charges in the case on Thursday.

“This craven act isn’t who we are,” said Judge Jeff Weill of Hinds County as he sentenced Mr. Dedmon, 19, to two concurrent life terms.

Under the state’s guidelines for capital murder, Mr. Dedmon could have faced the death penalty, but the victim’s family urged state and federal prosecutors to spare his life, saying they opposed it on religious grounds.

“I do not ask y’all to forget, but I do ask y’all to forgive,” Mr. Dedmon said to the family of James C. Anderson, 47, who was killed last June, according to pool reporters in the courtroom.

“I wish I could take it all back,” said Mr. Dedmon, who admitted to heading into Jackson at other times to harass and assault blacks.

“I was young and dumb, ignorant and full of hatred,” he said. “I chose to go down the wrong path.”

The killing, which was caught by a surveillance camera and widely distributed, once again laid bare racial problems in Mississippi.

Marches were held and some Jackson residents and civil rights leaders complained that the local police and prosecutors did not act quickly enough to arrest the seven white teenagers from a neighboring county who drove to Jackson in two vehicles on a hot June night with the intention of finding an African-American to harass.

What will happen to those other teenagers is likely to be revealed on Thursday when the results of a Justice Department hate crime investigation are aired in court, according to two people with detailed knowledge of the case.

As he has promised for months, Robert S. Smith, the Hinds County district attorney, said other charges in the case would be coming.

Federal officials and a grand jury have investigated the role various teenagers played, including John A. Rice, 19, who investigators said punched Mr. Anderson.

He has been charged with simple assault, pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.

The teenagers, who had spent the night at a birthday party bonfire, originally told the police they had driven about 16 miles from the largely white suburb of Brandon to buy beer in Jackson.

In later interviews, according to prosecutors at the hearing Wednesday, some of the teenagers said they were in fact looking for a black person to harass who was either drunk or homeless and thus less likely to report the crime.

They found Mr. Anderson standing near his car in a parking lot of a motel off the freeway just before 5 a.m. Some of the teenagers punched Mr. Anderson. Then, as he stumbled along the side of the road, Mr. Dedmon accelerated his truck and ran over him.

The teenagers yelled “white power” during the assault, prosecutors said Thursday, and some of the teenagers told investigators that Mr. Dedmon used a racial slur when he was bragging about the matter in a cellphone conversation minutes later.

Mr. Anderson’s family and his life partner, James Bradfield, described him as a generous family man who was helping to raise a young relative of Mr. Bradfield’s, sang in the First Hyde Park Missionary Baptist Church choir and worked at a nearby Nissan plant.

They said they had not been able to piece together why he was at the motel that morning.

The family has filed a wrongful death suit in the case against all seven teenagers who the police say were involved, including two girls.

Morris Dees, a founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is working with the family and their lawyer, Winston J. Thompson III. He said the family would continue to push for a civil trial so that more about the case could be revealed.

“You continue to see this around the country, the systematic targeting of black people. That’s what happened here and that’s what happened in Florida,” he said, referring to the case in Sanford, Fla., in which an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed almost four weeks ago by a white Hispanic crime watch volunteer. No charges have been filed in that case.

via Teenager Who Murdered Black Man Is Sentenced to Life – NYTimes.com.

via Teenager Who Murdered Black Man Is Sentenced to Life – NYTimes.com.

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7 Comments
  1. Olivia Newhouse permalink

    I can’t believe that in the matter of one month 2 innocent African American males have been murdered just because of the color of their skin. In this case, I am glad that Dedmon is sentenced to life in prison but is it really just that the other teenagers involved haven’t had any punishment? I wonder if these two incidents will influence more people to kill for “white power” and sadly only the future will determine this.

  2. DeShaun Mizner permalink

    What is really irritating about this case is that in this state, Dedmon should have been sentenced to death based upon his actions, but since his family is “religious” they were able to Dedmon out of that ordeal. I wonder that if in Mississippi If the race was completely turned around and the White man was murdered, If the black family argued against the death penalty would the justice system show the same courtesy as Mr. Dedmon had received. I am not against any religions or the law, but when they mix it seems that things get quite unfair in this contemporary America.

  3. Hailey Pusich permalink

    This article is frustrating to me because I don’t understand how people can have so much hate for an innocent person just because of the color of their skin. I’m glad that in this situation Dedmon was sentenced to life in prison but I hope that in the case we talked about in class on Wednesday there is justice for the innocent teenager that was killed just because of the color of his skin. I wonder if an innocent white person were killed just for being white if the media and press would make that a bigger story or issue than a black person being murdered simply because they were black.

  4. Here are a couple articles to read regarding death penalty and race (both in terms of accused and victim – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/us/15baldus.html; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/09/opinion/09dow.html

    and one on growing # of hate groups – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/us/number-of-us-hate-groups-on-the-rise-report-says.html

  5. Hollyann Jackson permalink

    While I’m glad Dedmon was sentenced to life in prison, I rather think the other teenagers should be punished harshly as well. While they were not the ones who ran over Mr. Anderson, it seems from this article that they very much had a hand in it, If the bit about them shouting “white power” is true, they were even egging Dedmon on! I sincerely hope that the remaining teenagers receive harsh punishments. Though, with the way things are playing out in the Treyvon Martin case, and looking at the sentence of Dedmon, it almost doesn’t look like they will be.

    In regards to the article about the rising number of hate groups: It’s amazing that social progression such as the election of Obama and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is met with such hatred. While I am disappointed at this trend, I am also not surprised. I wonder what the response will be if Obama gets re-elected?

  6. Kyla Chappell permalink

    We all know that racism still exists in our world today, but it absolutely shocks me that someone in their right mind would go as far as running someone over just for the color of their skin!? When I first was reading the article I was thinking it was an accident, but as I read on finding out it was intentional and 5 minutes after the incident, the boy who ran the black man over was bragging about it to someone on his cellphone, that’s REALLY something to brag about (not). I’m just completely floored after reading this article, and am so happy that Dedmon was sentenced to life in prison, he deserves that and much more. I believe the other teenagers involved deserve more of a punishment also.

  7. Katie Nelson permalink

    I read this article on CNN as well and found this to be a horrific incident in Mississippi, but it became very clear that racism is still prevalent, especially in the South. The actions taken by the man was not just drunken behavior, but out of pure hate. They deliberately were looking for a black man to beat up, and potentially kill. I even watched the video they had up, and was appalled by the actions these men took. They were even yelling “White Power” as they beat this poor guy up, which is disgusting that they thought they were so much more superior than the other man. This is so frustrating that this is still going on today, and shows there has been very little improvement on the moral toward African Americans. The video we watched in class today too, helped portray that blacks are still treated with very little respect, but still no ones sees that.

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