JACKSON, Miss. — A white Mississippi teen accused of intentionally running over a black man with a truck could face the death penalty if convicted in an alleged hate crime that has captured national attention.
Deryl Dedmon, 19, will be prosecuted on a capital murder charge in the death of 49-year-old auto worker James Craig Anderson, following a hearing in Jackson on Friday to upgrade the charge.
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said an investigation has uncovered evidence that suggests Dedmon robbed Anderson before running over him outside a Jackson hotel early June 26. He would not say what item or items were allegedly stolen.
"This does not change the theory of the case — that it's a racially-motivated killing," Smith said.
In addition to Dedmon, John Aaron Rice, 18, faces an assault charge in the case.
Attorneys for both teens have denied they were involved in a racially-motivated crime.
Investigators from multiple agencies, including the FBI, continue to investigate the slaying.
Smith hinted Friday that additional charges could be filed in the coming weeks.
"As the investigation unfolds, I'm looking for any and all evidence to assist with any charges," he said.
Surveillance footage from the hotel shows Anderson being struck by a truck that belongs to Dedmon. According to testimony at the teen's bond hearing July 6, Dedmon called a friend to brag about what he'd done after running over the man.
William Kirk Montgomery told police Dedmon said to him: "I just runned that (n-word) over."
A capital murder conviction carries life in prison or the death penalty.
On Friday, Smith said he had not yet asked Anderson's family members whether they want prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
"That's what we are going to find out. When considering the pursuit of the death penalty, that's one consideration - what the family wants," Smith said.