News and Press Releases

Defendant Dale Mardis Pleads Guilty
to civil rights murder of mickey wright

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2011

Memphis, TN - Edward L. Stanton, III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced today that Dale Mardis, 57, pleaded guilty in federal court to the racially-motivated murder of Shelby County Code Enforcement Officer Mickey Wright. According to the Indictment, on April 17, 2001, Mardis murdered Mickey Wright because Wright was employed by Shelby County Code Enforcement and because Wright was an African-American.

Mardis faces a sentence of up to life in prison. As part of the plea, the United States dismissed Count 2 of the Indictment, which charged Mardis with using a firearm to commit the civil rights murder. Mardis’s sentencing is scheduled for June 20.

“As the result of a lengthy and aggressive investigation and prosecution by an outstanding team of federal prosecutors and FBI agents, we were able to secure a guilty plea from Dale Mardis on the morning of trial. Today’s plea is the first time Dale Mardis has admitted his responsibility for the senseless murder of Mickey Wright. I am hopeful his admission of guilt today brings some sense of closure to the Wright family and to our community,” said Stanton. “This office will continue to work vigorously to ensure that justice is served by arguing for a life sentence without parole at the sentencing hearing.”

“Crimes of hatred and prejudice are sadly not a thing of the past, and the FBI remains dedicated to working with our federal, state and local partners to prevent these crimes and to bring to justice those who commit them,” said Amy S. Hess, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the FBI. “I hope that the efforts of all involved will help the family find closure, and move the healing process forward.”
Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, stated “Today’s guilty plea speaks to our continued diligence and commitment to aggressively prosecuting civil rights violations and bringing to justice those commit hate crimes. Acts of violence motivated by racial animus and cruelty, like the murder of Mickey Wright, have no place in this country, and we will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit this reprehensible offenses.” Mardis was indicted federally on January 30, 2008, after the state prosecuted him for murder.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. Special Agent Tracey Harris 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 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.

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