More developments in the horrific case of James Craig Anderson, the Black Mississippi man killed in an alleged racially motivated beating and hit-and-run murder. The 48-year-old auto plant worker had a long-term male partner of almost two decades and they were raising a daughter.
Anderson's family has asked Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith not to seek the death penalty in the case, reports CNN.
"We ask that you not seek the death penalty for anyone involved in James' murder," the letter states; the letter is signed by Barbara Anderson Young, James Craig Anderson's sister who is in charge of, and speaks for, his estate.
The letter states that the family is opposed to the death penalty partly for religious convictions. "Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James' life as well," the letter states. But the family goes on to explain that there is another reason for their opposition, one that is tied to Mississippi's racial past.
"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. "Executing James' killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment."
The 48-year-old auto plant worker died on the morning of June 26 in a motel parking lot. 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 charges and is being held without bond. Another young man is charged with assault and was released on bond. Prosecutors plan "to seek indictments against both for murder and a hate crime, and will seek indictments against [five] other teens who were at the scene," reports CNN.
Last week, 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. Forced to remain on the sidelines while Anderson's family makes all the decisions ... and collects what is likely to be a substantial settlement.