Justice Dept. Joins Investigation of Mississippi Murder

The U.S. Justice Department has joined the investigation of the murder of James Craig Anderson, a black man who was killed in a hit and run by a group of white teens who'd allegedly set out to find and attack a black person simply because of their race.

Anderson was in a hotel parking lot on June 26 when he was beaten by a group of teens. After the attack, one of the teens ran over Anderson with a Ford pickup truck. Anderson died of his injuries the next day.

According to CNN.com,

"Federal investigators are in Jackson at the request of Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, who says he will be seeking indictments against some or all of the white teens in coming weeks. "This was a racially motivated murder, committed because the victim was black. We want to prosecute and bring justice in this case to the fullest extent of the law," said Smith, explaining that he called Justice 

Department officials and asked for more investigators to come to Mississippi to help interview witnesses and pursue leads in the crime.

Under federal law, authorities can pursue further charges and punishment if it is determined that a crime was racially motivated. Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed to CNN that "the department has an ongoing investigation."

Eighteen-year-old  Derly Dedmon Jr., the leader of the group that attacked Anderson, has been charge with murder and could face two life sentences. Rice was initially charged with murder but a judge reduced his charges to simple assault because he is not believed to have driven the vehicle that killed Anderson. Neither Dedmon or Rice have pleaded to any charges, and none of the other teens have been charged.