A white Mississippi teenager pleaded guilty Wednesday to fatally running over a man with a truck because he was black, and received a life prison sentence for a crime the presiding judge said left a great stain on the state.
Deryl Dedmon, 19, received two concurrent life sentences for the racially motivated murder of 49-year-old James Craig Anderson, who died after being beaten and mowed down in a motel parking lot last year, Reuters reported.
Dedmon's admission that he killed Anderson because of his race doubled the teen's penalty under the state's hate crime statute.
The case was Mississippi's first hate crime conviction since the law was passed two decades ago, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.
I was young, I was dumb, I was ignorant, Dedmon said during his court hearing in Jackson. I was full of hatred.
In the courtroom, Anderson's sister, Barbara Anderson Young, called for racial reconciliation, and Dedmon apologized to Anderson's family, which wept as he spoke.
In sentencing Dedmon, Hinds County Judge Jeff Weill Sr. remarked, The very walls of this courtroom 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. ... 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 caused.
The sentencing came as the shooting death of a black teenager by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida has again put a national spotlight on racist violence.
Anderson, a Nissan auto worker, was returning to his car before dawn on June 26 when he was confronted by a group of white teenagers in a motel parking lot.
The teens had been drinking at a birthday party and drove to Jackson specifically to harass African-Americans, said Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Scott Rogillio.
Anderson was physically attacked by the group before Dedmon deliberately ran over him with a Ford F-250 truck, Rogillio said. Anderson died at the scene.
Dedmon yelled white power during the attack, Rogillio said.
Anderson's family had asked prosecutors not to pursue the death penalty, saying they're opposed to capital punishment.
It has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against all seven white teens.