Openly Racist And Convicted Murderer John William King Set To Be Executed

John William King, who killed James Byrd Jr. in an unimaginably cruel way, has been set to be executed.

A gavel sits on a table.
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John William King, who killed James Byrd Jr. in an unimaginably cruel way, has been set to be executed.

John William King is an open racist who took the life of the 49-year-old African American man James Byrd Jr. nearly 21 years ago. The method in which he murdered him was so despicable that many will never be able to forget this man’s name. On June 7, 1998, King captured Byrd in a secluded area of Jasper, Texas. He chained the man to the back of his truck and proceeded to drive down the road, dragging Byrd behind him for about three miles. For at least two of these miles, Byrd was still alive. Why did King choose Byrd as his victim in this unbelievably cruel crime? Prosecutors say it was because the man was black, according to NBC.

King was 23-years-old at the time he committed the crime. His body is covered in highly offensive tattoos, many of which follow a theme of white supremacy and satanic ideology. One particular tattoo depicts an African American man with a noose around his neck. While King was first placed on death row for the murder of Byrd in 1999, he has never stopped proclaiming his innocence.

When King is executed, he will be the forth inmate already this year to be put to death in the state of Texas. Texas leads the nation as the state that uses capital punishment the most frequently. King was among three men who were involved in the Byrd case. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed for his role in the murder in 2011. The last suspect was Shawn Allen Berry who was sentenced to life in prison.

Richard Ellis, one of King’s attorney’s, is trying to do what he can to put a pause on the execution. He wrote a letter of petition to the Supreme Court bringing up the fact that King’s trial lawyers had never brought up his claims of innocence in court.

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“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.”

While many might look at today’s decision as a step in the way towards justice for Byrd, his family says King is getting off easy.

“All they are going to do is go to sleep. But half the things they did to James, all the suffering he had to go through, they still get an easy way out to me,” King’s sister Louvon Byrd Harris said.