Jackson, MISSISSIPPI–Three males were were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Jackson for their roles in a federal hate crime conspiracy involving multiple racially motivated assaults, culminating in the death of James Craig Anderson, an African-American man, in the summer of 2011. Montgomery was sentenced to 234 months; Gaskamp was sentenced to 48 months; and Dominick was sentenced to 48 months.
William Montgomery, 25, of Puckett, Mississippi had previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for his role in the death-resulting assault of Anderson, 47, of Jackson, Mississippi. Jonathan Gaskamp, 22, of Brandon, Mississippi previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for his role in the conspiracy and in a violent assault of an unidentified African-American man near a golf course in the spring of 2011. Joseph Dominick, 23, of Brandon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for his role. A restitution hearing will be set for a later date.
“The Justice Department will always fight to hold accountable those who commit racially motivated assaults,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “We hope that the prosecution of those responsible for this horrific crime will help provide some closure to the victim’s family and to the larger community affected by this heinous crime.”
“Violence fueled by hate spreads fear and intimidation throughout our community,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis of the Southern District of Mississippi. “The prison sentences today make clear that our community will not tolerate hate, and individuals who commit such despicable crimes will be brought to justice.”
“The guilty pleas and resulting sentences handed down today are the result of the tremendous efforts by men and women in law enforcement who worked on this case,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway of the FBI in Mississippi. “The FBI takes very seriously its responsibility to protect the civil rights of all Americans, and remains committed to its pursuit of justice for anyone who is deprived of those rights.”
In prior court hearings, the defendants had admitted that beginning in the spring of 2011, they and others conspired with one another to harass and assault African Americans in and around Jackson. On numerous occasions, the co-conspirators used dangerous weapons, including beer bottles, sling shots and motor vehicles, to cause, and attempt to cause, bodily injury to African Americans. They would specifically target African Americans they believed to be homeless or under the influence of alcohol because they believed that such individuals would be less likely to report an assault. The co-conspirators would often boast about these racially motivated assaults.
Montgomery admitted his presence and participation in numerous racially motivated assaults, including the beating and killing of James Craig Anderson. Specifically, Montgomery admitted that in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011, he and six other co-conspirators agreed to carry out their plan to find, harass and assault African Americans. At around 4:15 a.m., Montgomery and three co-conspirators drove to west Jackson in Montgomery’s white Jeep with the understanding that the other three co-conspirators would join them a short time later. Montgomery and the three other occupants of the Jeep then drove around west Jackson and threw beer bottles from the moving vehicle at African-American pedestrians they encountered.
At approximately 5 a.m., Montgomery and the three other two occupants of the Jeep spotted Anderson in a motel parking lot off Ellis Avenue. The occupants of the Jeep decided that Anderson would be a good target for an assault because he was African-American and appeared to be intoxicated. Two of the co-conspirators got out of the Jeep to distract Anderson while they waited for the other three co-conspirators to arrive. After the other three co-conspirators arrived in a Ford F250 truck, two of the co-conspirators physically assaulted Anderson. After the assault, Montgomery and three co-conspirators left the motel parking lot in the Jeep. The driver of the Ford F250 then deliberately used his truck to run over Anderson, causing injuries which resulted in Anderson’s death. After Anderson’s death, a number of the co-conspirators including Montgomery agreed to, and did, give false statements to law enforcement officials about the nature of their interactions with Anderson.
Gaskamp admitted to participating in an assault-filled evening during which he and five co-conspirators drove to Jackson armed with Gaskamp’s handgun, struck multiple victims with large glass beer bottles hurled from the moving vehicle. Gaskamp further admitted that they located a homeless African-American man near a golf course and that he and two of his co-defendants punched and kicked the man until he begged for his life. Dominick admitted to participating in different assault-filled evening during which he and four co-conspirators also struck multiple victims with large glass beer bottles thrown from their moving vehicle, and to shooting multiple victims with metal ball bearings fired from a slingshot.
Three other defendants in related cases, Deryl Paul Dedmon, 22, John Aaron Rice, 22, and Dylan Wade Butler, 23, all of Brandon, Mississippi, were previously sentenced to 600 months, 220 months, and 78 months, respectively for their roles in the conspiracy. Four other defendants involved in related cases, Sarah Adelia Graves, 21, of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, Shelby Brooke Richards, 21, of Pearl, Mississippi, John Louis Blalack, 20, and Robert Henry Rice, 24, both of Brandon, Mississippi, are awaiting sentencing.