Dragging death suspect's lawyer rebuts race angle

DALLAS (AP) - The attorney for a white man charged in the dragging death of a black Texas man is disputing claims that his client is racist.

Attorney Ben Massar said Monday that murder suspect Shannon Finley is not guilty of a hate crime. He said reports that Finley purposely ran over and dragged 24-year-old Brandon McClelland underneath his pickup truck because of McClelland's race are untrue and upsetting to Finley's family.

Massar also said Finley and McClelland have been friends since they were teenagers.

Finley and Charles Crostley, both 27, face murder charges in McClelland's death. His torn-apart body was found on a rural Texas
road on Sept. 16.

McClelland's mother says her son was targeted because he was black and compares his killing to the notorious dragging death of James Byrd 10 years ago in East Texas.

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

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