John William King, the avowed racist who orchestrated the vicious, deadly attack against James Byrd Jr. in 1998, was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday evening.
King was one of three men convicted in Byrd’s murder and is the second person to be executed in the crime which prompted Congress to pass federal hate crime legislation.
According to the report, when asked if he had any last words, King, with his eyes closed, responded “No.” However, he did give a written statement which read, “Capital Punishment: Them without the capital get the punishment.”
Jeremy Desel, who works with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told CNN that the execution was delayed as the state went to the U.S. Supreme Court before being continued at around 6:56 p.m. CDT.
One of Byrd’s sisters, Clara Byrd Taylor told CNN that she felt nothing as she watched her brother’s murderer die, calling the execution a “just punishment.”
“There was no sense of relief,” she said, adding that King never showed any remorse, even as he was being executed.
Byrd’s murder rocked the town of Jasper, Texas, and the whole nation due to its brutality. King, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and Shawn Allen Berry offered Byrd a ride, only to brutally beat him and chain him to the back of a pickup truck. The men dragged Byrd behind the truck for almost 3 miles along a secluded road. Byrd was alive for at least two miles before his body was ripped apart.
Brewer was executed in 2011. Berry was sentenced to life in prison, but will be eligible for parole in 2038, according to CNN.
Byrd’s brutal death (along with the murder of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was brutally beaten and left for dead because he was gay in October 1998) prompted Congress to push through hate crime legislation in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.