JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three young white men who admitted they were out hunting black people to attack when they beat, ran over and killed a 47-year-old car plant worker in Mississippi's capital city were sentenced Tuesday to federal prison following a hate crimes investigation.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Deryl Paul Dedmon to 50 years; John Aaron Rice to 18 ½ years; and Dylan Wade Butler to seven years on the most serious of the counts against them, commission of a hate crime. Dedmon, 22, Rice, 21, and Butler, 23, are all from Brandon, Mississippi.
Dedmon also faces two life sentences in a Mississippi prison. He pleaded guilty in a state court in 2012 to capital murder and hate crime.
"What these people did was ugly, painful and sad and criminal," Reeves said.
They were charged in the June 2011 death of James Craig Anderson.
All three, wearing red prison jumpsuits and shackled at the waist and ankles, took to a podium to apologize to members of Anderson's family for their actions.
"I want to tell the Anderson family how truly sorry I am," Dedmon said.
The apologies came after an impassioned condemnation of their actions from Anderson's sister.
Barbara Anderson Young said her brother's death came "at the hands of these strangers with eyes full of hatred."
She said her brother "helplessly fought to stay alive" as he was attacked by people he did not know.
"My God have mercy on your sinful souls," Young said.
Prosecutors said the youths harassed or assaulted black people who they thought were homeless or intoxicated. Victims were chosen because they thought they would not tell police, authorities said. The harassment began in April 2011, culminating in the death of Anderson.
The three pleaded guilty in March 2012 to one count of conspiracy and one count of committing a hate crime. Each was sentenced to five years on the conspiracy count to run concurrent with the other.
In Dedmon's case, Reeves said the federal sentenced would run concurrent with his state sentence.
Dedmon was at the wheel of a truck that ran over Anderson in the parking lot of a Jackson hotel. The scene was caught on a security camera at the hotel.
The surveillance video, obtained by The Associated Press and other media, shows a white Jeep Cherokee in which Rice was allegedly a passenger leaving a hotel parking lot at 5:05 a.m. Less than 20 seconds later, a Ford truck backs up and then lunges forward. Anderson's shirt is illuminated in the headlights before he disappears under the vehicle next to the curb.
Before sentencing the three, Reeves told the courtroom that the Anderson's death reflected the "inhumanity of racism" with which Mississippi has dealt throughout its history.
"The sad thing is these ... hunts were instigated by our children, these kids," said Reeves, who is black. "The victims were targeted because of their race. These three defendants and others made a joint decision to act on racial hatred."
Reeves said a later hearing would be held to discuss restitution.
Seven others are awaiting sentencing.
Reeves will sentence Joseph Paul Dominick, William Kirk Montgomery and Jonathan Kyle Gaskamp on Feb. 25. Dominick pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2013 and faces five years in prison. Montgomery, who pleaded guilty in 2012, faces life in prison on a hate crime charge and five years on conspiracy. Gaskamp, who wasn't present the night Anderson died, pleaded guilty in 2012. He faces five years in prison for conspiracy and 10 years on a hate crime charge.
U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate will sentence four people:
— Sarah Adelia Graves, who pleaded guilty in December, faces five years in prison on a conspiracy charge at sentencing April 9.
— Shelbie Brooke Richards, who pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy and concealing the crime by lying to police, faces eight years in prison at sentencing April 16.
— John Louis Blalack, who pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to two hate crimes charges, faces 20 years in prison at sentencing April 23.
— Robert Henry Rice, who pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to one hate crime charge, faces 10 years in prison at sentencing April 30.