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Three men plead guilty to hate crimes charges in fatal rundown of James Anderson

James Anderson Personal Photo

(CBS/AP) JACKSON, Miss. - Three white men involved in the beating and fatal rundown of James Craig Anderson, a black Mississippi man, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal hate crimes. The three admitted to a months-long pattern of brutal harassment against blacks.

Twenty-year-old Dylan Butler, 19-year-old Deryl Dedmon and 19-year-old John Aaron Rice 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.

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.

The harassment began in April 2011, culminating in the death of Anderson, a 47-year-old car plant worker, on June 26.

Prosecutor Sheldon Beer said the three 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.

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. Sentencing is scheduled for June 8.

In state court on Wednesday, 19-year-old Dedmon pleaded guilty to murder and committing a hate crime and received two life sentences.

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.

In entering his guilty plea to the state charges on Wednesday, Dedmon admitted he and a group of white teens were partying in Puckett, a small town outside Jackson, when he suggested they find a black man to harass. They found Anderson before dawn outside a hotel.

During the state court hearing Wednesday, Dedmon asked the victim's family for forgiveness."

"As I stand before you today, I am a changed man. I am a godly man. God has showed me to see no colors. God showed me that we are all made in the image of God so we are all based on the same thing," he said. "I do not ask y'all to forget, but I do ask y'all to forgive."

Meanwhile, Rice is charged by the state with simple assault in the case. Rice has pleaded not guilty in that case.

Complete coverage of the James Anderson case on Crimesider

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