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Two women who were part of a 10-person group that searched Mississippi's capital city for black people to attack were sentenced Thursday for their roles in assaults that led to the death of James Craig Anderson in 2011.
Sarah Adelia Graves, 22, of Crystal Springs was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Jackson to five years in prison, and Shelbie Brooke Richards, 21, of Pearl, was sentenced to eight years. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy in December, while Richards also pleaded guilty in December to concealing the crime by lying to police.
Six men who were part of the conspiracy, which was prosecuted as a federal hate crime, have already been sentenced to terms from four to 50 years. Two others, John Louis Blalack, 21, and Robert Henry Rice, 24, both of Brandon, Mississippi, are awaiting sentencing.
The 10 all admitted that they conspired to harass and assault African-Americans in and around Jackson beginning in spring 2011, often chasing them down in cars and using beer bottles and slingshots. Prosecutors said they targeted people they believed to be homeless or drunk because they believed the victims wouldn't report the attacks.
Anderson was attacked early June 26, 2011. Two of the men got out of their Jeep to distract him while Richards, Graves and another man arrived in a truck. Two of the men then beat Anderson, and he was then run over. Hotel surveillance video showed the truck backing up and then lurching forward before Anderson disappeared under the vehicle.
Vanita Gupta, the acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said she hoped the convictions would "provide some measure of closure to the victim's family and to the larger community affected by this heinous crime."
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— M. Alex Johnson