Deryl Dedmon, 19, was charged with capital murder in the June 2011 death of 47-year-old James Craig Anderson by Hinds County Circuit Court. The teenager’s charges stemmed from running over Anderson, who is black, with his pickup truck. He pleaded guilty to murder and a hate crime Wednesday for running over a black man with his pickup truck in a killing a judge called a stain on Mississippi that will take years to fade.
The white teenager looked down as prosecutors described the killing. Dedmon admitted that he and a group of white teens were partying in Puckett, a small town outside the capital city, when he suggested they find a black man to harass and went to Jackson because of its majority-black population. They found Anderson before dawn outside a hotel. He was beaten before Dedmon ran over him.
Prosecutors said Dedmon and others had targeted blacks for harassment before, usually homeless or drunk people who weren’t likely to report it to police.
The victim’s sister, Barbara Anderson Young, fought back tears when she addressed the court.
“My brother Craig would give you the shirt off of his back. Because of my brother, James Craig Anderson, our lives were richer, with love, respect and a love of God,” she said. “We, the Anderson family, are praying for racial reconciliation not just in Mississippi but all over this land and country. We are praying for the defendant, Dedmon, and his family that they find peace.”
When it was his turn to speak, Dedmon’s shackles rattled as he turned and faced the Anderson family.
“I am sincerely sorry. I do take full responsibility for my actions on that night. I pray for y’all’s family every day … and that God will soften your hearts to forgive me,” Dedmon said.
Members of both families, sitting on opposite sides of a wooden court bench, wiped away tears.