Texas Executes White Supremacist Convicted in 1998 Dragging Death of James Byrd Jr.
The state of Texas on Wednesday executed a white supremacist convicted of leading the grisly killing of James Byrd Jr., a black man who was targeted in one of the most gruesome hate crimes in recent U.S. history.
John William King, 44, was executed by lethal injection shortly after 7 p.m. local time at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.
On the night of June 6, 1998, Byrd was offered a ride home in the back of a pickup truck after leaving a party late at night.
The Supreme Court denied King’s request for a stay Wednesday evening, allowing the execution to go forward.
The Dallas Morning News reported that evidence presented during the trial showed that King and his convicted accomplices, Shawn Berry and Lawrence Russell Brewer, were drinking and driving in Berry’s truck before stopping to offer Byrd a ride home.
According to the Texas Tribune, court documents indicated King had ties to a white supremacist prison gang and was inked with numerous racist tattoos, including images of a swastika, Ku Klux Klan signs and a drawing of a lynching.
The measure titled the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was named after Byrd and Shepard, a gay college student who was tortured and killed in 1998.