NAACP: Racial motivation behind Miss. hit-and-run?

By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS | July 31, 2012 | 8:36 PM EDT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi NAACP is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate whether the hit-and-run killing of a black man was racially motivated.

Authorities say a white 17-year-old male has been charged with murder in the July 22 death of Johnny Lee Butts. The 61-year-old was struck by a vehicle and killed while he was taking a morning walk on a rural road near his home in north Mississippi's Panola County.

District Attorney John Champion tells The Associated Press that the case is being presented to a grand jury Wednesday. The teenager was arrested July 22 and remains in the Panola County Jail under a $300,000 bond. At least one passenger was in the teen's vehicle.

Conviction on a murder charge can carry a sentence of life in prison. A person convicted under Mississippi's hate-crimes law could receive enhanced penalties.