JACKSON, Miss., Aug. 17 (UPI) — The U.S. Justice Department has joined the investigation of an alleged hate crime ending in homicide in Mississippi, U.S. and state officials say.
A group of white teenagers allegedly killed a black man because of his color. James Craig Anderson, 49, was first beaten as he stood in a Jackson hotel parking lot early June 26, CNN reported teens interviewed by police said.
Then, witnesses told police, the group of teens drove a large Ford pickup truck over Anderson, who died of his injuries the same day.
CNN said Wednesday Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith asked U.S. investigators to come to Jackson to interview witnesses and pursue leads. The broadcaster said the Justice Department confirmed “an ongoing investigation.”
Smith said he will be seeking indictments against some or all of the white teens.
“This was a racially motivated murder,” Smith told CNN, “committed because the victim was black. We want to prosecute and bring justice in this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
Police and prosecutors allege the group of teenagers was led by Deryl Dedmon Jr., 18, of Brandon, CNN reported. Dedmon is being held in Jackson, charged with murder. CNN said he could face two life sentences if convicted.
Anderson apparently was a randomly picked victim.
The teens allegedly decidedly to harm black people, drove 16 miles to the edge of Jackson in a black neighborhood and spotted their victim standing in a parking lot beside the highway exit ramp.