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Three Sentenced for Hate-Crime Murder of Black Man in Mississippi

 / Updated 
Robert Henry Rice, third from left, walks past news reporters and the family of James Craig Anderson on right, as he exits the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday morning, Jan. 7, 2015, during a lunch break, prior to his change-of-plea hearing in relation to a series of 2011 racial beatings that resulted in Anderson's death.Rogelio V. Solis / AP

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Three Mississippi men on Tuesday were given prison sentences ranging from 50 to 7 years for their roles in the murder of a black man in Jackson who was targeted specifically because of his race, federal prosecutors said.

Deryl Paul Dedmon, 22, was given the longest sentence of 50 years in prison, the U.S. Department of Justice said. John Aaron Rice, 21, was sentenced to 220 months, or more than 18 years, and Dylan Wade Butler, 23, was hit with a prison term of 7 years, according to officials. Dedmon is already serving two life sentences handed down by a state judge.

The three men embarked on a campaign to attack black people in the Jackson area that began in the spring of 2011, prosecutors said. The spree of beatings and attacks — they picked victims they thought were homeless or drunk, to decrease the risk of the attacks being reported — culminated in the death of James Craig Anderson, 47, who was run over with a truck in the morning hours of June 26, the government said.

"The defendants targeted African-American people they perceived as vulnerable for heinous and violent assaults — hate crimes, motivated solely by race, that shook an entire community and claimed the life of an innocent man,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

"These sentences bring a fitting end to the case against these three men. Although nothing can erase the grievous harms inflicted, or ease the grief of the victim’s friends and loved ones, this outcome holds those responsible for these horrific crimes fully to account," Holder said.

Dedmon and Rice beat up Anderson in a motel parking lot at around 5 a.m. that morning, and Dedmon then ran over the prone victim, killing him.

Rice, Butler, and another man had arrived at the motel first, and distracted Anderson until Dedmon and others arrived, prosecutors said, but they left in a Jeep before Dedmon ran over Anderson with his Ford F250 pickup truck, prosecutors said.

After the beating, a passenger of the Jeep and Dedmon yelled, “White Power!” prosecutors said. Seven other men are also awaiting sentencing in the case.

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 Robert Henry Rice, third from left, walks past news reporters and the family of James Craig Anderson on right, as he exits the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday morning, Jan. 7, 2015, during a lunch break, prior to his change-of-plea hearing in relation to a series of 2011 racial beatings that resulted in Anderson's death. Rogelio V. Solis / AP
— Phil Helsel

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