An East Texas grand jury indicted two white men Thursday in the racially charged hit-and-run death of a black man who was dragged beneath a pickup truck.
Shannon Finley and Charles Crostley are charged with the murder of 24-year-old Brandon McClelland, whose mangled body was found Sept. 16 on a country road.
Finley faces an additional charge of tampering with physical evidence for allegedly trying to wash blood and “biological material” from his truck, according to the indictment. Crostley faces an additional charge of retaliation for allegedly threatening a potential witness in a phone call before he was arrested.
The two men, both 27, are being held at the Lamar County Jail. Their attorneys did not immediately respond to phone messages left by The Associated Press.
Authorities say the two suspects intentionally ran over and killed McClelland following an argument during a late-night beer run. McClelland’s body was caught beneath the truck and dragged about 70 feet.
To some, the case stirs memories of the notorious dragging death of James Byrd by white supremacists 10 years ago in the East Texas town of Jasper.
But authorities maintain McClelland’s death was not racially motivated, a stance that has angered the victim’s family and activists. McClelland was a friend of the two suspects for about a decade, noted District Attorney Gary Young.
Young has recused himself as prosecutor because he represented Finley in a 2003 murder case.
Finley pleaded guilty to manslaughter in that case and served four years in prison for the fatal shooting of a friend.
Toby Shook, a former assistant district attorney in Dallas County, has been appointed special prosecutor in the McClelland case. He declined to comment on developments Thursday.