JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A fourth man pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges Tuesday in the death of a black man who was run over by a pickup truck in Mississippi, and another man admitted he was part of a group of young whites involved in racially motivated attacks against African-Americans.
The death of James Craig Anderson, who was beaten and run over in Jackson on June 26, 2011, sparked the charges against a group of young whites. Anderson, a 47-year-old auto plant worker, was run down outside a Jackson hotel.
William Montgomery pleaded guilty in the death of Anderson, and Jonathan Gaskamp admitted to two federal hate crime charges in attacks on other blacks in Jackson.
Prosecutors said starting about April 1, 2011, the group of white young men and women would drive from the majority-white suburbs of Rankin County into the majority-black capital city of Jackson, seeking black people to verbally harass and physically assault, and that they would later boast about the attacks. They would target people who appeared to be homeless or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, believing that such victims would be less likely to fight back or to report attacks to police.
Prosecutors said the group included Montgomery, Gaskamp and the three men who previously pleaded guilty in Anderson's death: Deryl Dedmon, Dylan Butler and John Aaron Rice.
Sentencing is later for all five men.
"It's not over until God says it's over," Anderson's sister, Barbara Anderson-Young said after the hearing. "We're still seeking justice for James Craig Anderson."
Gaskamp, 20, faces up to five years in prison for one count and 10 years for the other. Montgomery, 23, faces up to five years for one count and up to life in prison for the other.
Dedmon, Butler and Rice pleaded guilty to similar charges and face the same penalties as Montgomery.
In court, about a dozen white relatives and friends of Gaskamp and Montgomery sat behind the defendants while about as many Anderson supporters, most of them black, sat behind federal prosecutors. Spectators from the two sides rarely looked at each other.
Gaskamp and Montgomery were each handcuffed and shackled around the waist. During separate plea hearings, each gave short answers — "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" — as U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves asked if they understood the charges to which they were pleading guilty.