JACKSON, Miss. — Three white men involved in the beating and fatal rundown of a black man in Mississippi pleaded guilty Thursday to federal hate crimes and admitted to a months-long pattern of brutal harassment against blacks a day after one of them pleaded guilty in state court to a murder charge.
Dylan Butler, 20; Deryl Dedmon, 19; and John Aaron Rice, 19; entered the pleas in federal court to conspiracy to commit a hate crime and to committing a hate crime. Authorities said the investigation continues and there could be more arrests.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves set sentencing for June 8 and ordered all three to be held in custody. The three are from the town of Brandon, a Jackson suburb, and were accused of going to the majority-black capital city on numerous occasions to harass or assault black people.
Prosecutor Sheldon Beer read the allegations against the three, saying they 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 James Craig Anderson, a 47-year-old car plant worker, on June 26.
Each was charged with the same two crimes. They face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and up to life on the hate crime charge.
Butler and Rice were accused of driving around Jackson and throwing beer bottles at people before meeting up with Dedmon the night Anderson was run over. Sheldon said there were other occasions when one or all of the defendants used a slingshot to shoot marbles at black people.