The white Mississippi teenager charged with deliberately running down a Black man has been indicted for capital murder and a hate crime ... but is "unlikely" to face the death penalty because the victim's family opposes the death penalty.
Forty-eight-year-old James Craig Anderson had a long-term male partner of almost two decades and they were raising a daughter. Anderson was killed on June 26 in a motel parking lot in Jackson.
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith confirmed the decision to ABC News.
Smith [plans] to make a formal announcement in the next two days, after strongly considering the family's wishes to spare Daryl Dedmon, 19. "Nearly all of the time we would like for the families to be pleased with the outcome of their loved ones' cases," he said. "We try to give that family peace of mind."
In the letter sent to Smith, dated Sept. 13, Anderson's sister Barbara Anderson Young said she spoke on behalf of their mother, and her two brothers, in asking prosecutors not to seek capital punishment, saying the family's 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 says. "Executing James' killers will not help balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment."
Surveillance video shows two carloads of teenagers driving into the parking lot. Several approached Anderson, who was beaten and robbed. The video shows Anderson being struck by a truck. Witnesses report one teenager yelled "white power" and the driver of the pickup shouted the n-word.
Two men have been charged. Nineteen-year-old Daryl Dedmon, who was driving the pickup, faces capital murder and hate crime charges and is being held without bond. Police initially charged another teenager, John Aaron Rice, with murder. That charge has been reduced to simple assault.
Earlier this month, Anderson's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the seven white teenagers that police say were involved in the gruesome crime. Anderson's long-term partner is prevented by Mississippi law and the Defense of Marriage Act from joining the legal action. Anderson's partner is also prevented by Mississippi law from making end of life decisions. Forced to remain on the sidelines while Anderson's family makes all the decisions ... and collects what is likely to be a substantial settlement.
The prosecutor's descision is probably for the best. It doesn't seem very likely that a Mississippi jury would condemn a white teen to death for killing a Black gay man.