John William King was executed Wednesday, April 24, for the brutal hate crime which killed James Byrd Jr. in 1998.
What We Know:
- In 1998, King, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and Shawn Berry beat Byrd before dragging him by a chain attached to the back of a pick-up truck, killing Byrd and mutilating his body.
- The crime is considered a white supremacist hate crime as a lighter found at the scene had “KKK” engraved on it & King had tattoos of a robed Klansman & a black man hanging from a tree.
- King is the third man to be convicted in this case; Brewer died by lethal injection in 2011 on death row and Berry was sentenced to life in prison.
- King has claimed Berry alone was responsible for the murder and attempted to appeal his guilty verdict on multiple occasions claiming insufficient evidence linking him to the incident.
- Byrd’s murder, along with the hateful 1998 murder of gay student Matthew Shepard, inspired the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed in 2009. Texas also passed its own hate crime law in 2001 because of the murder.
While some feel this execution has brought closure to the “modern-day lynching,” Byrd’s family spoke up against the execution; Byrd’s son stated “you can’t fight murder with murder.”