Texas man who orchestrated James Byrd Jr.'s gruesome hate-crime dragging death executed

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- The man sentenced to death for one of the most gruesome murders in modern American history showed no remorse before his execution.

John William King was executed by the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville on Wednesday for the 1998 death of James Byrd Jr. in east Texas.

King was put on death row for chaining Byrd to the back of a truck and dragging his body for nearly three miles along a secluded road in the piney woods outside of Jasper.

Prison officials met with King on Wednesday, and they say he appeared calm.

"He didn't say much," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson, Jeremy Desel, recalled. "His attitude seemed very calm and put together."

King had no supporters in the room while he was executed, but two of Byrd's sisters and his niece were present.

Over the past couple of days, King met with a chaplain, friends and other visitors. Visitors say he treated his execution day like any other day.

"He did appear to have slept at least some last night, a couple of hours," Desel said. "Then, did what many offenders tend to do, tidy up his cell in preparation for the rest of his day."

King received nearly 100 interview requests over the past six months, but officials say he turned them all down.

In his only television interview with ABC News in 2004, King maintained his innocence.

"Even if they say, 'Well, he might be innocent. He probably wasn't there. So what? Apathy. They don't care about white racists," King said. "Just because we're white racists, well, one less one. Kill them."

Texas has executed two inmates this year. King is scheduled to be the third.

Three men were convicted for killing Byrd. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in 2011 and Shawn Allen Berry was sentenced to life in prison.


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