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Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crimes charge

By CNN Staff
updated 7:15 PM EST, Thu January 3, 2013
  • Group of Mississippi men attacked African-Americans, authorities say
  • One such assault involved a slingshot, ball bearings, according to prosecutors
  • Joseph Dominick, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday to one charge of conspiracy

(CNN) -- A Mississippi man pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal hate crime charge in connection with a group of young men and teenagers who carried out racial attacks against African-Americans in 2011.

Joseph Dominick, 21, from Brandon, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Mississippi, to one count of conspiracy to commit federal hate crimes.

Dominick and others began in the spring of 2011 to harass and assault black people in Jackson and the surrounding area, according to the FBI.

In one case, Dominick was part of a group that used a slingshot to hurl metal ball bearings at several African-Americans, a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice said. The young men also threw glass beer bottles at black people, the news release said.

On June 25, 2011, Dominick attended a party in Puckett, about 45 minutes from Jackson, where members of the group discussed going to the Mississippi capital to find African-Americans to harass, authorities said. While seven white men went in two trucks that night to Jackson, Dominick wasn't among them.

James Craig Anderson, 47, a black man, died after he was beaten and run over in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011. The truck was driven by Deryl Dedmon, a member of the group, prosecutors said.

Anderson's death became national news after CNN obtained and aired videotape capturing the gruesome murder as it happened.

"We hope that today's guilty plea provides further assurance to the victim's family and to the community that the Department of Justice will leave no stone unturned to find those responsible for these senseless racially motivated attacks," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. "Our investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to pursue those who participated in this violent conspiracy, which culminated in the tragic death of James Craig Anderson."

Four of the men who were there that night pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes in 2012. Dedmon, John Aaron Rice and Dylan Butler, all now around age 20, and 23-year-old William Kirk Montgomery each admitted to conspiracy and violating the 2009 federal hate-crimes law. They face sentences of up to life in prison and $250,000 in fines, federal prosecutors said.

Dedmon also pleaded guilty to murder and hate-crime charges in a state court and was sentenced to life in prison.

A fifth man, Jonathan Kyle Gaskamp, 20, pleaded guilty in December to hate crimes related to other incidents.

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CNN's Scott Bronstein contributed to this report.

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