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March 7, 2013 ABC News
The FBI is "monitoring" the investigation into the death of an openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi, opening the door to a possible prosecution as a federal hate crime.
The FBI said in a statement that it "initiated contact" with Mississippi police on March 1 "to offer assistance."
"The FBI will continue its ongoing dialogue and sharing of information with the local and state agencies, and will continue to monitor this investigation for any indication that a potential violation of federal law exists," FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said in a statement.
Marco McMillian, 34, was found dead on Feb. 27. He was the Democratic candidate for mayor in the delta town of Clarksdale, Miss., and was considered one of the first viable openly gay candidates to run for office in the state. According to his family he was beaten, dragged from his car and burned after his death.
Lawrence Reed, 22, is the sole suspect and has been charged with murder.
State and local authorities are investigating the murder. Mississippi has a hate crime law that applies to victims of race-based crimes, but does not apply to sexual orientation.
Both McMillian and Reed are black.