White supremacist executed for orchestrating barbaric killing of black man by dragging him behind a truck until head ripped off

JUSTICE FOR JAMES: White supremacist executed for dragging black man behind truck for 3 miles until his head ripped off in ‘worst hate crime in history’.

John William King orchestrated the barbaric killing of father-of-three James Byrd Jr in 1998

THE racist ringleader of one of the worst hate crimes in US history was executed in Texas yesterday.

White supremacist John William King received a lethal injection 21 years after chaining a black man to the back of a truck and dragging him for three miles until he was ripped to pieces.

John William King has been executed 21 years after organising and carrying out a horrendous hate crime
James Byrd Jr, 49, was picked up by three men led by King before being beaten and tied to the back of truck

The victim, James Byrd Jr, was alive for at least two miles as King and two racist pals drove along secluded roads in the piney woods outside Jasper, Texas.

King, 44, was found guilty of masterminding the horrific 1998 killing and sentenced to die in Huntsville Unit at the Texas State Penitentiary.

He refused to look at the victim’s family as the injection was administered, keeping his eyes closed before taking “one deep breath, one exhale”.

Asked by Warden Bill Lewis if he had a final statement, King bluntly replied: “No.”

The notorious murderer was pronounced dead at 7.08pm local time – 12 minutes after the lethal dose of sedative pentobarbital was given to him.


The death of Byrd, a 49-year-old father-of-three, was a hate crime that put a national spotlight on Jasper, a town of about 7,600 residents near the Louisiana border.

Three men, led by King, picked him up and drove him to the outskirts of the town where they beat him and spray-painted his face with black paint.

They then tied a logging chain around his ankles and dragged him behind their pickup truck for almost three miles, dismembering him.


Autopsy results showed Byrd was alive for much of the trip before his head struck an open drain under the road.

His eyebrows, knees and backside were skinned to the bone and genitals had been completely ground away.

Cops found Byrd’s headless body outside a church cemetery. His right arm was also missing.


The rest of his body had been left about a mile and a half away before the three men drove off to a barbecue.

Official records state: “Byrd’s death and dismemberment were caused, according to the pathologist, when he was slung into a culvert (an open drain under the road) on the side of the road.”


In total 81 separate pieces of Byrd’s body were discovered along the road.

Police followed a trail of blood from the cemetery to a field which showed signs of a struggle.

There they recovered a lighter engraved with “KKK” and “Possum”, cigarette butts, a button from Byrd’s shirt, his baseball cap and a wrench inscribed with the name “Berry” – the name of another man involved.

King and two other men were arrested the next day after cops pulled over the truck and found Byrd’s blood splattered underneath.

[King] showed no remorse then and showed no remorse tonight.

Clara Taylor, Byrd’s Sister

In a statement released after his execution, King said: “Capital punishment: them without the capital get the punishment.”

Byrd’s sister, Clara Taylor, who watched King die, said he “showed no remorse then and showed no remorse tonight.”


“The execution for his crime was just punishment,” she said. “I felt nothing, no sense of relief, no sense of happy this is over with.”

As witnesses emerged from the prison, about two dozen people standing down the street began to cheer.

King, who was openly racist and had offensive tattoos on his body, including one of a black man with a noose around his neck hanging from a tree, was the executed second man executed for Byrd’s killing.

Byrd was chained to this pickup truck and dragged for three miles along roads in Texas as he was ripped apart


Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in 2011 and the third participant, Shawn Allen Berry, was sentenced to life in prison.

In a 2001 interview with the Associated Press, King described himself as an “avowed racist” but claimed he wasn’t “a hate-monger murderer.”

The victim’s sister, Louvon Byrd Harris, said earlier this month that King’s execution for her brother’s slaying would send a “message to the world that when you do something horrible like that, that you have to pay the high penalty.”

King and Brewer got “an easy way out” compared to “all the suffering” that Byrd faced, Harris added.

King’s appellate lawyers had tried to stop his execution, arguing King’s constitutional rights were violated.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected King’s last-minute appeal.


A. Richard Ellis, one of King’s attorneys, wrote to the Supreme Court: “From the time of indictment through his trial, Mr. King maintained his absolute innocence, claiming that he had left his co-defendants and Mr. Byrd sometime prior to his death and was not present at the scene of his murder.

“Mr. King repeatedly expressed to defense counsel that he wanted to present his innocence claim at trial.”


The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also turned down King’s request for either a commutation of his sentence or a 120-day reprieve.

Over the years, King had also suggested the brutal slaying was not a hate crime, but a drug deal gone bad involving his co-defendants.

King was the fourth inmate executed this year in the U.S. and the third in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.


Billy Rowles, who led the investigation into Byrd’s death when he was sheriff in Jasper County, said after King was taken to death row in 1999, he offered to detail the crime as soon as his co-defendants were convicted.

When Rowles returned, all King would say was, “I wasn’t there.”


“He played us like a fiddle, getting us to go over there and thinking we’re going to get the rest of the story,” said Rowles, who now is sheriff of Newton County.

A week before Brewer was executed in 2011, Rowles said he visited Brewer, who confirmed “the whole thing was Bill King’s idea.”

Mylinda Byrd Washington, another of Byrd’s sisters, said earlier this month that the family will work through the Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing to ensure her brother’s death continues to combat hate everywhere.

“I hope people remember him not as a hate crime statistic. This was a real person. A family man, a father, a brother and a son,” she said.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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