The white Mississippi teen accused of beating and driving over an African-American man pleaded “not guilty” in his arraignment on Friday.
Nineteen year old, Deryl Dedmon, is charged with capital murder and a hate crime in the death of James Craig Anderson.
During his hearing on Friday morning in front of Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill, Dedmon showed no emotion, expressed no remorse and made no further statements.
In the early morning of June 26 after a night of partying and drinking, Dedmon and a gang of white teenagers attacked Anderson when they found him alone in a parking lot around 4a.m.
Dedmon then allegedly jumped into his green Ford F250 pickup truck and drove it over Anderson. The 49-year-old died instantly.
The prosecutor in the case, Robert Shuler Smith, has said he and his team "believe that the evidence will show that these teenagers went out with the intention to harm and, in this case, kill a Black man."
If Dedmon is convicted he faces the death penalty, but lethal injection is the last thing that Anderson’s family wants for the alleged killer of their deceased relative.
"We ask that you not seek the death penalty for anyone involved in James' murder," a letter sent to state and federal officials from Barbara Anderson Young, James Anderson’s sister, said on behalf of her family. "Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James' life as well… We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites," the letter states.
Just over a week after Troy Davis was executed by lethal injection for the murder of an off-duty police officer, it will be interesting to see if anti-death penalty supporters will be just as passionate to save the life of Dedmon, a man whose actions of killing another man were caught on camera.
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(Photo: AP Photo/The Clarion-Ledger, Joe Ellis)