White supremacists dragged James Byrd to his death in 1998. One of them was just executed.Breaking News
tags: death penalty, execution, White Supremacy, James Byrd
James Byrd Jr.’s body was found in pieces along a country road in Texas in June 1998.
Forensic investigators later determined the injuries that killed Byrd — cuts and scrapes around his ankles and other abrasions on his body — seemed to indicate his ankles had been wrapped together with a chain and that he had been dragged by a car.
The gruesome killing of Byrd, a 49-year-old black man, seemed to hark back to an era of lynchings and racially motivated slayings across the South. The trials of the three white men charged with the crime drew wide attention to Jasper, a town of about 7,500 in East Texas, just a short drive from the state’s boundary with Louisiana.
Texas officials announced this week that one of Byrd’s killers, John William King, 44, would be executed Wednesday night, two decades after being convicted. It would make him the fourth inmate executed this year in the United States, and it would be one of the final legal steps in a case that has prompted a national discussion about hate crime legislation. But will it provide closure in a case that remains painful 20 years later?
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