WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Memphis, Tenn., last week returned a two-count indictment, which was unsealed today, charging Dale Mardis with a federal hate crime and using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence for his role in the 2001 murder of Shelby County Code Enforcement Officer Mickey Wright. Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, David Kustoff, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, My Harrison, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Memphis Field Office, and Mark H. Luttrell Jr., Shelby County Sheriff, announced the indictment.
The indictment alleges that on April 17, 2001, Mardis willfully shot and killed Wright, an African-American, because of his race and because of Wright’s position with Shelby County government. The second count of the indictment charges Mardis with violating a separate federal statute by using a firearm to commit the hate crime. The indictment also includes a special finding by the grand jury that Mardis killed Wright in an especially heinous, cruel and depraved manner. If convicted, Mardis faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
“This indictment accuses the defendant of conduct that constitutes a federal hate crime. It is a violation of federal law to intimidate, oppress, injure or threaten a person because of his race and because he was exercising or enjoying rights guaranteed and protected by the laws and Constitution of the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Kustoff.
The case was investigated by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti.
An indictment is only an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.