White supremacist executed for dragging death of black man

White supremacist executed for dragging death of black man

John William King, one of the men behind a notorious hate crime in the US, is put to death by lethal injection in Texas

Sky News

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A white supremacist has been executed 21 years after he dragged a black man behind a truck for nearly three miles.

John William King and two other men had targeted hitch-hiker James Byrd Jr in the early hours of 7 June 1998 because of his skin colour, prosecutors had said.

John William King murdered James Byrd and has been executed in Texas

Mr Byrd, 49, had been chained to the back of the truck and dragged three miles along a road near Jasper, Texas.

He is thought to have been alive for around two-thirds of that distance before his body was torn apart.

His remains were dumped in front of an African-American church.

King, who had racist tattoos on his body including one of a black man being hung from a tree, is the fourth person executed in the US this year and the third in Texas.

The death chamber in Huntsville, Texas, where John William King was executed

He refused to look at witnesses before his death and also declined to make a statement to them. But in a statement released after his execution, he said: “Capital punishment: them without the capital get the punishment.”

Twelve minutes after he was injected, he died.

Afterwards, Mr Byrd’s sister Clara Taylor, who watched the execution, said it had been a “just punishment”, adding: “I felt nothing – no sense of relief, no sense of happy this is over with”.

Louvon Byrd Harris, another of Mr Byrd’s sisters, said earlier this month that the execution would send a “message to the world that when you do something horrible like that, that you have to pay the high penalty”.

Lawyers for King had appealed his conviction, saying his his lawyers at the trial had not presented his claims of innocence.

Clara Taylor, sister of James Byrd, who was killed in a racist crime by John William King

King had said he left his co-defendants before Mr Byrd was murdered.

But the appeal was rejected by the US Supreme Court.

King’s co-defendant Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in 2011, while the third man Shawn Allen Berry, was jailed for life.

Brewer had said the murder had been King’s idea but King told Billy Rowles, Jasper County’s sheriff at the time: “I wasn’t there”.

Mr Rowles said: “He played us like a fiddle, getting us to go over there and thinking we’re going to get the rest of the story.”

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