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Matthew Shepard Act applied in Mississippi hate crime

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A brutal killing last year brought back ugly memories for the people of Jackson, Miss.

Hundreds of people marched in August -- an event reminiscent of the civil rights movement -- after a security camera recording showed that James C. Anderson was beaten and run over by white young adults in June.

“There is a lot of general appall over what took place here,” Ronnie C. Crudup Sr. told The Times during the march.

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“We wanted to get well-minded people, both black and white, together to do something to support this family and this country. This is not indicative of where Mississippi is today.”

The case came to a conclusion this week. Three men pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges Thursday and admitted they and others decided to drive to Jackson to cause “bodily injury to African American persons,” eventually leading to Anderson’s death.

The charges were the first time the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act has been used in which defendants’ actions resulted in a victim’s death, the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reported.

Deryl Dedmon, 19, along with John A. Rice, 18, and Dylan Butler, 20, were each charged with conspiracy and violating Anderson’s civil rights. Dedmon was sentenced to two life sentences without a chance for parole.

Anderson’s June 26 death did not initially attract much media attention until a security camera recording was broadcast in August, sparking vigils and marches in Jackson.

The 49-year-old man was allegedly intoxicated and locked out of his car in the parking lot of a motel when he was approached by a group of young men from Brandon, Miss.

Prosecutors said the group, including Dedmon and Rice, beat Anderson before Dedmon got in his Ford F-250 and ran Anderson over. According to the federal charges, Dedmon called friends immediately after the assault “to brag” and described Anderson with a racial slur.

Anderson’s family has filed wrongful death lawsuits against the three men and four other people involved in the attacks.

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