Mardis pleads guilty to racially-motivated killing - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mardis pleads guilty to racially-motivated killing of code enforcement officer

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis business man who admitted murdering a Shelby County Code Enforcement officer pleaded guilty Monday to federal hate crime charges.  

In court, Dale Mardis, 57, pleaded to the racially motivated murder of Shelby County Code Enforcement Officer Mickey Wright

"The family has gone through a lot," said the Wright family's spokesperson, Gayle Miller.

In state court, Mardis pleaded no contest to killing Wright, and agreed to serve 15 years - a plea with which the Wright's did not agree.

"The murder was because of Mickey Wright's race," U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton said.

So, federal prosecutors decided to indict Mardis on hate crime charges.  Monday, moments before trial was to start, Mardis tearfully pleaded guilty to killing Wright partially because of race. As part of a plea deal, Mardis agreed to take a polygraph, give investigators a detailed statement, and walk them through the crime scene.

"That was my client showing some remorse," said Mardis' attorney, Howard Manis.

Though a plea deal was reached, defense and prosecuting attorneys could not agree on a sentence.  Prosecutors plan to ask for life in prison without parole, though Manis claims his client should be sentenced on guidelines of no more than second degree murder.

A magistrate will decide Mardis' fate at a sentencing hearing in June.

"I think you'll hear at sentencing some evidence that mitigates the conduct, that explains some of the things that may have happened there and even after there," Manis said.

Monday, the Wrights were simply appreciative of federal prosecutors, and hoped for closure.

"They were able to get Dale Mardis to admit guilt, and we are grateful," Miller said.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly