Two 21-year-old white Mississippi women plead guilty to racist attacks

JACKSON, Miss. - Two 21-year-old white women from Brandon have each pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a series of attacks on African Americans that culminated when a black man was run over and killed in Jackson in 2011.

Shelbie Brooke Richards and Sarah Adelia Graves each pleaded guilty to one count conspiring to violate the federal hate crime law, The Clarion-Ledger reports reported.

Richards also pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony - concealing information about James Craig Anderson's murder from investigators.

Anderson's death outside a Jackson hotel sparked a broader investigation into reports that groups of young white men and women would drive from mostly white Rankin County into majority-black Jackson to assault African-Americans.

Prosecutors said the suspects usually sought out the homeless or people under the influence of alcohol.

Six other Brandon residents have pleaded guilty.

Deryl Paul Dedmon, John Aaron Rice, Dylan Wade Butler, William Kirk Montgomery, Jonathan Kyle Gaskamp, and Joseph Dominick have yet to be sentenced.

According to court documents, Richards and Graves admitted they were part of a larger plot to harass and assault African Americans in west Jackson with weapons including beer bottles, sling shots and motor vehicles.

They chose targets they thought would be least likely to report an assault, the documents said.

Seven white teens were partying in the early morning hours of June 26, 2012, when Dedmon suggested they find a black man to harass, authorities said. Anderson was beaten before Dedmon ran over him, authorities said.

Richards' statement said she encouraged Dedmon to hit Anderson with his truck, then lied to investigators, saying she neither remembered a fight between Dedmon and Anderson nor encouraged Dedmon to run into Anderson.

The maximum penalty on the conspiracy charge is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Misprision carries up to three years and a $250,000 fine.