WEST POINT, Miss. — A Mississippi prosecutor said Monday that the beating of a white man outside a restaurant in 2014 by three black men wasn’t a premeditated racial attack, as the last two of the three defendants pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
District Attorney Scott Colom also said in a statement that the attack was not motivated by the victim’s military service, either. Colom said he plans to disclose more information, including the motive, when the final defendant is sentenced Friday.
Colom said Marquavious McMillian and Kent Davis entered guilty pleas Monday in Clay County Circuit Court in the attack on Ralph Weems IV, a former Marine who was left in a coma for a time after the attack.
McMillian was sentenced to two years in prison, with a suspended sentence of six more years that he won’t have to serve unless he gets in more trouble, Colom said. McMillian will also serve five years of probation.
Davis will be sentenced Friday.
The beating followed a confrontation at a Waffle House where Weems’ friend said they were told the place wasn’t safe for white people after Ferguson. David Knighten, a friend of Weems who accompanied him that night, told The Associated Press at the time that he and Weems had left a Waffle House after an argument with African-American patrons that brought police. Knighten said someone had warned them that the black customers were upset by the killing of Michael Brown and it wasn’t a safe place for whites.
The two then went to the Huddle House restaurant, where Knighten said he came out of a restroom and found Weems surrounded, and that both were attacked as they left the restaurant. Knighten said as many as 20 assailants were involved, although West Point police said video and other witnesses showed far fewer people attacking or watching.
West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said at the time that it wasn’t clear whether the assaults were motivated by racism, and the men were not indicted under Mississippi’s state hate crimes statute. The FBI was investigating at one time, but didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment late Monday. Colom said his conclusions were drawn from investigations by West Point police and his own office.
A third man, Courtez McMillian of Okolona, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in April. Most of his seven-year prison sentence was suspended, and he was released on the day of the sentencing after getting credit for 20 months he had been jailed; he is currently serving five years of probation, and also was fined $1,000.
Colom said Weems and his family agreed with the sentencing recommendations for the three men.
Information from: WCBI-TV, http://www.wcbi.com