Deryl Dedmon pleads guilty, sentenced to life in prison - - Jackson, MS

Deryl Dedmon pleads guilty, sentenced to life in prison

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Brandon teen accused of running over a black Jackson resident as part of a hate crime, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Deryl Dedmon, 19, was sentenced after he entered a plea of guilty in the hit-and-run murder of James Craig-Anderson in Hinds County Court Wednesday.

All along Dedmon has maintained his innocence, and showed signs he planned to fight the charges. 

Dedmon first entered a not guilty plea.

Then asked for a change of venue, until finally admitting guilty.

Anderson was killed in front of the Metro Inn on Ellis Avenue in Jackson on June 26, 2011.

After being struck by a truck, driven by Dedmon; who in court, apologized directly to the Anderson family.

"I'm sincerely sorry and I take full responsibility for my actions that night," Dedmon said. "I pray for ya'll families everyday and god will soften your hearts to forgive me."

By entering the guilty plea, Dedmon waives his right to a trial.

He was the sentenced to life in prison, then given another life sentence as a "Hate Crime" enhancement by Judge Jeff Weill.

Prosecutors described the night of the murder, saying Dedmon and some friends set out to Jackson to harass black people, saying he first assaulted Anderson, before running him over.

"The defendant deliberately used his vehicle to run over the victim, someone inside the car yelled a racial slur, the defendant was on his way back to the truck, raised his fist and yelled white power," said Assistant District Attorney Scott Rogillio.

James Craig Anderson's sister Barbara, spoke for the family.

"We are praying for the defendant Dedmon and his family that they find peace," said Barbara Anderson-Young. 

Dedmon's relatives declined to speak as they left the courthouse.

Prosecutors say this is the first hate crime conviction under new state laws.

"We felt good about this case from day one, were continuing to work diligently and bring justice to this matter," said Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler-Smith.

Schuler-Smith says he will hold a press conference Thursday at the federal courthouse in Jackson, possibly talking about the FBI's case against Dedmon and John Rice, who is charged with assault in Anderson's murder.

A civil suit against Dedmon is still likely.

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