The white Mississippi teenager charged with deliberately running down a Black man pleaded not guilty to capital murder on Friday. Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill set a Jan. 9 trial date for 19-year-old Deryl Dedmon. The judge told prosecutors to inform the court by Nov. 1 if they plan to seek the death penalty, reports the Clarion Ledger.
Dedmon was shackled at the waist, "showed no emotion and spoke only two words during his five-minute court appearance. "Not guilty," reports the Associated Press.
James C. Anderson died on the morning of June 26 in a Jackson motel parking lot. The 48-year-old Anderson had a long-term male partner of almost two decades and they were raising a daughter.
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.
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.
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