Included in this post:
-Video of entire hearing, unedited.
-Video of District Attorney press conference, unedited
-copy of plea agreement and text of Judge Weill's remarks
-Report of the hearing
Deryl Dedmon pleaded guilty to killing James Anderson in Hinds County Circuit Court today. Judge Jeff Weill sentenced him to two life sentences to be served concurrently for the brutal murder of the victim. The case captured national attention as video cameras captured Dedmon intentionally running over Mr. Anderson with his truck. Dark was the weather and dark was the evil done to the Anderson family but justice shined yesterday as it meted out its sentence on the young killer.
Prosecutor Scott Rogillo presented the horrifying, details of that gruesome night as Dedmon stood next to him clad in prison garb surrounded by his attorneys. Mr. Rogillo said the defendant attended a bonfire in Puckett, Mississippi in April 2011. Mr. Rogillo stated:
"They drank alcohol and "discussed" going to Jackson to "harass African-Americans whom they referred to as niggers. Others were recruited by the defendant to go to Jafrica.. words to the effect of 'Lets go fuck with some niggers' were used. This was not unusual as the defendant admitted to going to Jackson with others in previous weeks for the purpose of harassing African-Americans. The harassment at first took the form of verbal assaults, then later escalated into physical encounters. They targeted African-American individuals who were sometimes homeless and/or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The purpose was only to attack those who would not likely resist and/or report it to the authorities. As the party in Puckett broke up, the defendant agreed to meet with others at the Texaco station on Highway 80 in Brandon Mississippi. Before traveling to Jackson, four of the individuals drove to Jackson.. in a white four-door Jeep.
It was decided that the defendant and two others would go to Jackson in his Ford F-250. The four individuals left ahead of the defendant while he waited for the other two to arrive at the Texaco. The two vehicles maintained cellphone contact. At approximately 4:45 AM, the four individuals in the Jeep stopped at a Wendy's restaurant on Ellis at Highway 80 in Jackson when they saw Mr. James Craig Anderson, a 47 year-old African-American who appeared to be intoxicated, alone, and in an adjacent hotel parking lot. Excited he would be their target and phoned the defendant who was on his way from Brandon with the other two occupants. The driver of the white Jeep drove his car to the hotel parking lot.. Two of the occupants got out of the car, the White Jeep, to stall Mr. Anderson under the pretense of assisting him until the defendant arrived.
Upon his arrival the defendant got out of the truck, approached Mr. Anderson, who was engaged in a conversation with the ones who got out of the white Jeep. The physical assault began when one of the passengers of the white Jeep hit Mr. Anderson with his fists, knocking him to the ground. The defendant then straddled the victim and punched him several times in the face and the head. This lasted for several seconds. When the assault was over, the two individuals from the white Jeep rejoined the other two occupants and drove off. At least one of the individuals in the white Jeep yelled "White Power" as they left. The defendant on his way back to the truck raised his fist and said "White Power". The defendant then rejoined the other two occupants in the truck and proceeded to leave the hotel parking lot and join the other vehicle, which had already left.
The defendant then saw Mr. Anderson in his headlights, just past the exit of the parking lot on the side of the road. The defendant deliberately used his vehicle to run over the victim. Someone inside the defendant's car yelled a racial slur. The autopsy later revealed that the victim died as a result of the serious injuries he sustained. Almost immediately after the impact, the occupants of the Ford truck phones the occupants of the other vehicle and stated words to the effect that the defendant just ran that nigger over. At least one witness called 911 and gave a description of the vehicles and members of the Jackson Police Department arrested the defendant on his way back to Brandon on Interstate 20."
Deryl Dedmon, small in height that he is, became smaller as the prosecutor laid out in stark detail the events of that night. He stood expressionless, looking straight ahead, as his crime was told to the court. Judge Weill asked him if "those facts were essentially true". Dedmon replied they were. Judge Weill sentenced him to life in prison and added a second life sentence to be served concurrently*. Mississippi law allows a judge to double a sentence if the act is found to be a hate crime.
Judge Weill allowed Barbara Anderson Young, the sister of the deceased James Anderson, to speak to the court (15:50 in the video). She said "Craig was a big-hearted person. One who loved his fellow man. Caring, family-oriented, and a big sense of humor." She looked Dedmon in the eye and said "My brother Craig would give you the shirt off of his back." She then said "We, the Anderson family, are praying for racial reconciliation not only in Mississippi, but all over this land and country." Her voice broke as she said "We are praying the defendant Dedmon and his family, that they find peace." Members of the Dedmon family sobbed as she spoke.
Judge Weill had a few words of his own to say to Mr. Dedmon (The text of his speech is posted in the documents below.). The former Republican member of the Jackson City Council addressed the defendant in a courthouse that still echoes faintly with a Ross Barnett joking with Beckwith over the assassination of Medgar Evers:
"Mr. Dedmon, having heard your admissions the very walls of this courthouse cry out for justice. You have admitted killing a man simply because of his race. Your prejudice has brought shame upon you and placed a great stain on the State of Mississippi. Whatever excuse you may offer for what you have done- forget that. There is no excuse you can offer to the family of Mr. Anderson or to your fellow Mississippians who have to try to reconcile the horrible damage you have casued. All the hard work we have done to mover our state forward from that earthen dam in Neshoba County to here has been stained by you. A stain which will take years to fade."
Judge Weill then spoke to the Anderson family:
"May God bless and console you on the loss of your early fallen loved one. The name of this case is literally State of Mississippi versus Deryl Dedmon. Know that Mississippians think about this senseless crime the way you think about it. With all her troubled past, the state of Mississippi stands with you today and condemns this despicable crime and says there is no excuse for this."
Deryl Dedmon then read a prepared statement to the courtroom (18:15 in video). His voice was even, showing no emotion. He said "I would like to apologize to the Harrison family for the horrible thing I have done" and that "I take full responsibility for my actions on that night." The defendant said he prayed for them to soften their hearts and to not forget but to "forgive me".
The courtroom was silent, Barbara Young shaking her head, the Dedmon family crying, others doing their duty but not wanting to be there. Outside, the clouds gathered to unleash a downpour but inside the courthouse, Mississippi stood up and did the right thing. District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith announced after the hearing there would be a press conference today at the federal building about possible federal charges against Dedmon and other individuals. He said it was the "beginning of many things to come in this investigation."
*Section 99-19-307 allows a Judge to enhance the penalty if the crime was committed for a "discriminatory purpose". The code states:
"In the event it is found beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense was committed by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, national origin or gender of the victim, then the penalty for the offense may be enhanced by punishment for a term of imprisonment of up to twice that authorized by law for the offense committed, or a fine of up to twice that authorized by law for the offense committed, or both."
Thursday, March 22, 2012
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Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).
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Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".
In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.
In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.
Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.
Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!
This is definitely a Beaver production.
Note: Security provided by INS.
There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.
If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!
This is definitely a Beaver production.
Note: Security provided by INS.