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Mississippi Women to Be Sentenced in Slaying of Black Man

Sarah Adelia Graves and Shelbie Brooke Richards, part of a group who searched Jackson, Mississippi, for black people to attack, were to be sentenced.
Amelie Hahn
Amelie Hahn, braves cold weather as she holds a poster memorializing the 2011 rundown death of James Craig Anderson in front of the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. Two of the men charged in the series of 2011 racial beatings that resulted in Anderson's death were expected at a change-of-plea hearing. Rogelio V. Solis / AP
/ Source: NBC News

Two young white women, part of a group who repeatedly searched Mississippi's capital city for black people to attack, were scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

In separate hearings, U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate will sentence Sarah Adelia Graves and Shelbie Brooke Richards. Graves pleaded guilty in December to a conspiracy count and faces up to five years in prison. Richards, who pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy and concealing the crime by lying to police, faces eight years in prison.

Both Graves and Richards were riding in a truck driven by Deryl Paul Dedmon that ran over James Craig Anderson in June 2011. Anderson died after being beaten and run over.

Six white men were sentenced earlier by a different judge, receiving prison terms ranging from four years to 50 years. Two more men await sentencing after Thursday.

Both women have acknowledged that they helped recruit people at a birthday party to take part in the venture that eventually led to Anderson's death. Richards admitted that she encouraged Dedmon to assault Anderson when they arrived in a hotel parking lot, and then yelled a racial slur and encouraged Dedmon to run over Anderson when Dedmon returned to the truck.

Hotel surveillance video, obtained by The Associated Press and other media outlets, shows a Ford truck back up and then lunge forward at 5:05 a.m. (6:05 a.m. ET). Anderson's shirt is illuminated in the headlights before he disappears under the vehicle next to the curb.

Richards also acknowledged that later that month she lied to Jackson police detectives about the incident and her participation.

The 10 defendants have pleaded guilty to other racially motivated attacks, including the beating of a black man near a Jackson golf course, the beating of another man who tried to sell the suburbanites drugs, attacks on pedestrians using beer bottles and a slingshot, and an attempt to run down another black man.

Prosecutors said the suspects usually sought out people who were homeless or drunk. Other than Anderson, the black people who were assaulted have not been identified.

- The Associated Press