Hate crime investigation grows in Mississippi

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Hate crime investigation grows in Mississippi
Family members of Deryl Dedmon, cry as he is sentenced to two concurrent life sentences after pleading guilty to murder and committing a hate crime in the June 2011 death of 47-year-old James Craig Anderson, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson, Miss. The teenager's charges stemmed from running over Anderson, who is black, with his pickup truck. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)
CORRECTS ANDERSON'S AGE TO 47 INSTEAD OF 49 - Family members of Deryl Dedmon, cry as he is sentenced to two concurrent life sentences after pleading guilty to murder and committing a hate crime in the June 2011 death of 47-year-old James Craig Anderson, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson, Miss. The teenager's charges stemmed from running over Anderson, who is black, with his pickup truck. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)
FILE - In this March 21, 2012 file photo, Deryl Dedmon, 19, charged with capital murder in the June 2011 death of 47-year-old James Craig Anderson, a black man, in Jackson, reads a letter to Anderson's family after pleading guilty to murder and committing a hate crime, in Hinds County Circuit Court, in Jackson, Miss. Federal prosecutors have filed a motion to continue the October sentencing of Dedmon and two others convicted of federal hate-crime charges. The motion was filed under seal Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 in U.S. District Court in Jackson. Prosecutors asked for the motion to be sealed because it contains information about the defendants' cooperation in the investigation of Anderson's death. Anderson was run over by a pickup truck driven by Dedmon on June 26, 2011, in Jackson. Dedmon was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences in county court. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool, File)
CORRECTS ANDERSON'S AGE TO 47 INSTEAD OF 49 - Deryl Dedmon, 19, charged with capital murder in the June 2011 death of 47-year-old James Craig Anderson in Jackson, reads a letter to Anderson's family after pleading guilty to murder and committing a hate crime, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Hinds County Circuit Court. The teenager's charges stemmed from running over Anderson, who is black, with his pickup truck. Dedmon was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)
A family member cries as Barbara Anderson Young, sister of James Craig Anderson, who was murdered by Deryl Dedmon, 19, reads a statement in Hinds County Circuit Court, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Jackson, Miss. Dedmond pleaded guilty to murder and committing a hate crime and was given two concurrent life sentences. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)
Deryl Dedmon, center, is escorted by a Hinds County Sheriff's Department deputy as he leaves the courtroom in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, after entering a "not guilty" plea before Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill, rear, on a capital murder indictment. Dedmon is charged with running down James Craig Anderson on June 26 with a pickup in what authorities say was a hate crime. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)
People march to the site where James Anderson, a black man, was allegedly rundown by a white teenager June 26, 2011 on a street in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011. A wreath was laid at the site and candles lit as the marchers walked in a candlelit procession to a neighboring church for comments from a number of religious leaders denouncing racially motivated hate crimes. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
People march to the site where James Anderson, a black man, was allegedly rundown by a white teenager June 26, 2011 on a street in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011. A wreath was laid at the site and candles lit as the marchers walked in a candlelit procession to a neighboring church for comments from a number of religious leaders denouncing racially motivated hate crimes. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Gabriel Shelwood, 11, carefully carries a lit candle Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, in Jackson, Miss., as he marches in a racially and religiously diverse group of several hundred people to the a neighborhood church after first leaving a wreath at the site where James Anderson, a black man was allegedly rundown by a white teenager June 26, 2011 on a south Jackson street. The marchers walked in a candlelit procession and later heard comments from a number of religious leaders denouncing racially motivated hate crimes. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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By JACK ELLIOTT JR.

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.

Attorney Robert O. Waller, representing Blalack, declined to comment. Attorneys for the two other defendants did not immediately return telephone calls.

The indictment against the four was filed in May and immediately sealed. It became public when they appeared in court.

Other than Anderson, blacks assaulted during the attacks have not been identified. Prosecutors said the assailants used their fists, beer bottles, sling shots and vehicles in the attacks.

The assault on Anderson was caught by a hotel surveillance camera. It received widespread attention after the video was obtained by news organizations, including The Associated Press.

The video showed a white Jeep Cherokee leaving a hotel parking lot at 5:05 a.m. on June 25, 2011. Less than 20 seconds later, a Ford truck backs up and then lunges forward. Anderson's shirt is illuminated in the headlights before he disappears under the vehicle. Anderson was also beaten.

Four men previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the Anderson case and other offenses, and two other men pleaded guilty in other attacks. They are awaiting sentencing.

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