March 7, 2013 10:18:45 AM
JACKSON -- The FBI said Wednesday that it has been monitoring the state investigation into the death of an openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi, but the agency didn't indicate it had opened its own investigation.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson asked Tuesday for the FBI to "review the circumstances and evidence" in the slaying of Marco McMillian, who was running for mayor of Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta. Thompson, whose daughter attended college with McMillian, said he had known the victim for years.
"The FBI is aware of the case, has been monitoring the state investigation, and will assess evidence to determine whether federal prosecution is appropriate," FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said Wednesday in a statement. She said the FBI has been following the investigation since March 1, shortly after learning of the circumstances surrounding McMillian's death.
The FBI could determine whether to file a federal hate crime charge, which covers acts motivated by bias against sexual orientation. Mississippi's state law against hate crimes covers acts motivated by race, but not sexual orientation.
"The FBI will continue to monitor this investigation, and will continue its ongoing dialogue with the Coahoma Sheriff's Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation," Madden said in her statement. "The full resources of the FBI have been made available to our state and local partners."
The Coahoma County Sheriff's Office has been the lead agency in the investigation with assistance from the MBI,, said Mississippi Department Public of Safety spokesman Warren Strain.
Strain said the sheriff's office asked for MBI's assistance when a man wrecked McMillian's car on Feb. 26, but McMillian was nowhere to be found.