The white Mississippi teenager charged with killing 49-year old James Craig Anderson, is unlikely to face the death penalty despite being indicted for capital murder and a hate crime, since the family opposes it.
Anderson, an auto plant worker who was raising a child with his partner of nearly two decades, was beaten and run over with a truck by a group of teenagers while in a hotel parking lot on June 26. According to ABC News:
"Smith [plans] to make a formal announcement in the next two days, after strongly considering the family's wishes to spare Dedmon, 19. "Nearly all of the time we would like for the families to be pleased with the outcome of their loved ones' cases," he said. "We try to give that family peace of mind."
In the letter sent to Smith, dated Sept. 13, Anderson's sister Barbara Anderson Young said she spoke on behalf of their mother, and her two brothers, in asking prosecutors not to seek capital punishment, saying the family's opposition to the death penalty is "deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James' life as well."
"We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites," the letter says. "Executing James' killers will not help balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment."
Two men, 18-year old Deryl Dedmon Jr. the ringleader of the group who has a history of making homophobic and racist remarks and John Aaron Rice, have been charged in connection to the crime, Dedmon Jr. with capital murder and hate crime charges, and Rice with simple assault. Anderson's family has filed a wrongful death suit against the two teens and five others that were involved in the attack. Unfortunately, Anderson's partner is prevented by Mississippi law and the Defense of Marriage Act to get in on any of the legal action, including the settlement the family stands to get.
Hopefully the family's attitude towards the Dedmon Jr. is an indicator of how they'll treat Anderson's partner, but you never know. So much for gay marriage being a white issue...