2 familiar with case: Hate crime charge in rundown

March 22, 2012 - 1:55 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three white men, including a teenager who pleaded guilty to murder and hate crime charges in Mississippi state court for running over a black man with his truck, were charged Thursday with federal hate crimes.

Two people with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press that John Aaron Rice, Dylan Butler and Deryl Dedmon were charged in documents sealed in U.S. District Court in Jackson. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the charges had not been unsealed.

Dedmon, 19, received two life sentences on state charges Wednesday for the June 2011 death of 47-year-old James Craig Anderson.

Rice, Dedmon and Butler were scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Jackson later Thursday and were expected to plead guilty, those familiar with the case said. Federal officials were planning a news conference after the hearing.

In entering his guilty plea to the state charges, Dedmon admitted he and a group of white teens were partying in Puckett, a small town outside Jackson, when he suggested they find a black man to harass and went to Jackson because of its majority-black population. They found Anderson before dawn outside a hotel. He was beaten before Dedmon ran over him.

State prosecutors said Dedmon and others had previously targeted blacks for harassment, usually homeless or drunk people who weren't likely to report it to police.

The case received widespread attention after a video of Anderson's death was obtained by news organizations.

The video, taken by a hotel surveillance camera, shows a green Ford truck back up in the hotel parking lot, then lunge forward. Anderson's shirt is illuminated in the headlights before he disappears under the vehicle. Police said Dedmon was driving the truck and later bragged that he ran over Anderson.

Dedmon was indicted on state charges for capital murder, which in Mississippi carries a sentence of death or life in prison without parole, but District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said prosecutors couldn't have gotten a conviction. For capital murder, there must be an underlying offense, which had been robbery. Smith said the investigation revealed that the group did not take Anderson's wallet, as investigators first believed.

Rice is charged by the state with simple assault in the case. Authorities said he left the scene in another vehicle before Anderson was killed. Rice has pleaded not guilty and is free on a $5,000 bond.