- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

WEST POINT, Miss. (AP) - A northeast Mississippi man has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, saying he beat a man in a restaurant parking lot in 2014, but he won’t serve any more jail time.

The beating of Ralph Weems IV at a Huddle House in West Point attracted attention over claims that black people attacked Weems because he is white. Weems was in a coma for a time after the beating.

District Attorney Scott Colom said Courtez McMillian of Okolona pleaded guilty Monday, and WCBI-TV reported McMillian’s plea agreement requires him to testify against two other defendants. Those men, Marquavious McMillian and Kent Davis, are now scheduled for trial in October.

Courtez McMillian was sentenced to seven years in prison, but most of that sentence was suspended and McMillian was released after getting credit for 20 months he has been jailed. The Clarion Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/2p0QRMM) reports McMillian will also be on probation for five years and pay a $1,000 fine and court costs.

David Knighten, a friend of Weems, told The Associated Press after the beating that he and Weems had left a Waffle House after an argument that brought police. Knighten said someone had warned them that black Waffle House customers were upset by the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and it wasn’t a safe place for whites.

The two then went to a Huddle House restaurant, where Knighten said he came out of a restroom and found Weems surrounded. In the parking lot, Knighten said Weems was attacked. He 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. FBI spokesman Brett Carr said a federal investigation was still pending.

Columbus attorney David Owen, who represents Weems in a civil lawsuit, said his client has been kept informed about the criminal plea talks and supports Colom’s handling of the matter.

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