Two more guilty pleas in landmark Jackson hate crime case - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Two more guilty pleas in landmark Jackson hate crime case

James Craig Anderson   Source: Family James Craig Anderson Source: Family
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Two more guilty pleas in a landmark hate crime case in Jackson; 20 year old John Lewis Blalack and 24 year old Robert Henry Rice were the final two individuals to plead guilty in a series of hate crimes prosecutors are calling a conspiracy. The conspiracy, which spanned from April to June of 2011, resulted in the death of James Craig Anderson on June 26 of that year. 

In U. S. District Judge Henry Wingate's court room, Blalack pleaded guilty to two counts of commission of a hate crime. Rice pleaded guilty to one count of commission of a hate crime in an incident that happened prior to Anderson's death. 

Rice was not present the night Anderson was run over by Daryl Dedmon, another co-conspirator who has since pleaded guilty and will spend life in prison. 

Rice was involved in an incident where he and some others traveled to Jackson, saw an African American man by a golf course, and members of Rice's group beat the man until he pleaded for his life. 

Blalack was present the night Anderson was killed. He admitted to distracting Anderson until Dedmon arrived on the scene, and doing nothing while Anderson was beaten. 

Both Blalack and Rice were taken away in handcuffs and will be sentenced at a later date.

"We have a strong faith in God, we have confidence in the people that have been working behind the scenes, on the streets, everyone, to bring these ten people down," said Anderson's sister, Barbara Anderson Young.  

This is the first case nationally to be prosecuted under the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act which resulted in a death. 

The other eight co-conspirators are also behind bars.

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