Black man's death in Paris raises tensions

PARIS, Tex. - A black man died under a pickup in East Texas last month and two white men have been charged with murder in a case drawing racial attention.

A flier advertising a memorial service tomorrow in Paris for 24-year-old Brandon McClelland say he was "the victim of a brutal and racist hate crime."

Prosecutor Bill Harris says he's seen no evidence that McClelland's death was racially motivated.

Harris says investigators are looking into whether Shannon Keith Finley, who has served time for killing a friend, was in a racist gang behind bars.

Authorities say McClelland was run over by the truck and dragged after going with two white acquaintances -- Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley -- on a late-night beer run to Oklahoma.

His torn-apart body was discovered along a rural road Sept. 16.

Crostley and Finley are jailed on charges of murder and evidence-tampering.

Finley's attorney did not immediately comment. There was no answer at the phone listing for Crostley's lawyer.

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Here's more:

-- Finley and Crostley told police they left the dry town to get beer in Oklahoma, and on the way back the three -- all apparently drunk -- argued about who was sober enough to drive.

The two told police McClelland decided to walk home -- taking some beer with him.

But Finley's estranged wife and one of his friends says they were told by the two defendants that Finley began to bump McClelland with his truck until McClelland fell, and Finley drove over him.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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