Mardis Sentenced to Life Without Parole for Hate Crime Murder
Memphis, Tenn. – Memphis, TN - Convicted killer Dale Mardis was sentenced to life in prison today
by United States District Judge Bernice Donald, announced United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton,
III; Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez; and Special Agent in
Charge of the Memphis FBI Field Office Amy Hess. Mardis, who pled guilty on March 21 to the
racially-motivated killing of Shelby County Code Enforcement Officer Mickey Wright, has no possibility
of parole in the federal system.
Judge Donald imposed the life sentence on Mardis after the defendant dropped his objections to the
sentencing recommendation and admitted that his killing of Mickey Wright was first-degree murder. This
admission came as the result of last week's discovery by federal prosecutors and investigators that Mardis
murdered another man, Henry Ackerman, in the summer of 1998. They confronted Mardis with the new
information on Friday and Mardis confessed to the second murder.
In addition to agreeing to the federal life sentence, Mardis also agreed to plead guilty to first-degree
murder to the murder of Ackerman in Shelby County Criminal Court and be sentenced to life for that
killing as well. The federal and state life sentences are expected to run concurrently.
Mardis murdered Mickey Wright on April 17, 2001, but was not identified as his killer until over three
years later. Mardis acknowledged that he shot and wounded Mickey Wright after an argument over code
violations, then decided to finish him off. Mardis additionally admitted that he took Mickey Wright’s body
to an isolated rural area, where he dismembered and then burned the body. Wright’s disappearance
sparked a lengthy search effort and garnered national attention.
Mardis was federally indicted for the killing in January 2008 after pleading no contest to a state court
“Judge Donald’s sentence proves that justice delayed is not justice denied. Although nothing can ever
undo their tragic loss, Mickey Wright’s family can take some comfort that Dale Mardis will never again
set foot outside of a prison,” said United States Attorney Stanton. “This life sentence marks an important
day for the Wright family and for all the people of Memphis. Dale Mardis’s fate proves to the community
that hate-crime murders remain a top priority of our office and of the whole federal government.”
“Brutal hate crimes like the one committed by Dale Mardis tear at the fabric of our society, and the
Memphis Office of the FBI, through its Civil Rights Task Force, will aggressively pursue those who
commit such crimes, aiding victims and helping to heal communities in the process.” said Special Agent
in Charge Hess.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County Sheriff's
Department. FBI Special Agents Tracey Harris and Jaime Corman and former Shelby County Detective
Sergeant Joe T. Everson were the lead investigators on the case. The case was prosecuted by United States
Attorney Edward L. Stanton, III; Assistant United States Attorney Stephen C. Parker, head of the Civil
Rights Unit at the U.S. Attorney's Office; and Jonathan T. Skrmetti, who began work on the case as a Trial
Attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and who is now an Assistant
United States Attorney in Memphis.