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Hate crime investigation grows in Mississippi

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm •  Published: July 17, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A three-year federal investigation into groups of suburban white teens crossing into Mississippi's capital city to attack blacks has grown to 10 indictments and six convictions.

The most recent indictments — two men and two women — were made public Wednesday.

The June 2011 death of James Craig Anderson, who was run over by a pickup truck outside a Jackson hotel, sparked a broader investigation into reports that groups of young white men and women would drive from the mostly white Rankin County into majority-black Jackson to assault blacks.

Prosecutors said the suspects usually sought out the homeless or people under the influence of alcohol.

The Justice Department said Thursday it could not comment on the case.

John Louis Blalack, 20, of Brandon; Sarah Adelia Graves, 21, of Crystal Springs; Robert Henry Rice, 23, of Brandon; and Shelbie Brooke Richards, 20, of Pearl, entered not guilty pleas Wednesday on various charges including conspiracy and committing a hate crime.

Each was released on a $100,000 bond. A tentative trial date is set for Sept. 15.

Attorney Tom Fortner, who represents Graves, said Thursday he was waiting for documents from the government that would shed more light on the case.

"They've played this pretty close to the vest. They haven't provided us all the witness statements and reports yet. Things will develop as we get that material and we try to figure out what is going on," Fortner said.

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