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Family of Murdered MS Politician Wants Hate Crime Investigation

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(Clarksdale, MS) The family of Marco McMillian wants the U.S. Justice Department to investigate his death as a hate crime.

They feel McMillian's autopsy report raised more questions than answers.

They also say Coahoma County investigators have left them "out of the loop."

Carter Womack is spokesperson for the family of Marco McMillian.

"All of us who knew Marco, knew that he was a phenomenal talent...a phenomenal person," Womack said.

McMillian's family held a news conference Thursday in Clarksdale to announce plans to ask the Justice Department for help.

Attorney Daryl Parks is representing the family.

"We need answers and we're demanding answers from the government in this case," Parks said.

In February, McMillian's death gained national attention after it was learned the 33-year old Clarksdale mayoral candidate was openly gay.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks is Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, a national black and gay rights organization.

She says that information has clouded the tragedy.

"The mere fact that the community has been torn apart just because of that issue," Lettmen-Hicks said. "My question is, who was Marco to you five minutes before you found out that he was gay? Who was he to you?"

Patricia Unger, Marco's mother, didn't want to talk on camera, but says she and her family have been left out of the loop by Coahoma County investigators.

McMillian's autopsy report says he was beaten, and burned.

"Now it becomes rather clear that Marco McMillian was tortured by someone. And we don't believe this one person did it alone."

Lawerence Reed is charged with murdering McMillian. Detectives say he told them he strangled McMillian.

Attorney Daryl Parks believes more than one person is responsible.

"When this guy says that he strangled him, yet the medical examiners report doesn't show any real trauma to the neck, that's a problem. There's' no way that we can just accept the gentleman's little explanation that, 'Hey, I strangled him,' " Parks said.

Parks also says some evidence connected to the case was mishandled.
The Coahoma County Sheriff is not commenting on what the McMillian family and their attorney said Thursday.