Two young Mississippi women who took part in the racially motivated murder of a black man in 2011 received the maximum sentences yesterday from a federal judge who wished he could have sent them to prison for longer. Shelbie Brooke Richards, 21, and Sarah Adelia Graves, 22, received eight years and five years, respectively, the AP reports. They were in the vehicle that Deryl Dedmon used to fatally run over James Craig Anderson in a parking lot, and admitted recruiting other white teenagers at a party in Rankin County to travel to Jackson and attack black people, the Clarion-Ledger reports. Prosecutors say the pair, who joined at least one earlier trip to harass and assault African-Americans, shouted racial slurs and encouraged Dedmon to run the man over.
The judge said he felt the pair could have been charged with something more serious than conspiracy to commit a hate crime, which they pleaded guilty to, the AP reports. "I just wonder whether the hatred is just engrained for some particular reason," he said. "Then again, that's what race hatred is all about: whites who hate blacks and blacks who hate whites. It's just automatic." At the hearing, the victim's brother told the women they could have saved him instead of encouraging his murder, reports the Clarion-Ledger. Six other men who were in the group have received federal sentences of between four and 50 years and two more are still to be sentenced. Dedmon has been sentenced to life by a Mississippi court.