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His Death Shocked the World. Now, a 2nd Man Will Die for It

John William King to be executed in Texas Wednesday for the murder of James Byrd Jr.
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2019 2:40 PM CDT
This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John William King.   (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)
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(Newser) – A high-profile execution is scheduled to take place in Huntsville, Texas, Wednesday night. John William King, 44, is set to die for the gruesome 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., a black man who was on June 7, 1998, offered a ride home in Jasper. The offer was a ruse: He was beaten, chained by the ankles to the back of a pick-up truck, and dragged a distance of nearly three miles. The AP reports he was alive for at least two of them; his body was ultimately torn to pieces. "The motive seemed shockingly clear-cut," writes the New York Times: King had just left prison, and he did so an avowed white supremacist. By way of illustration, the paper references one of his tattoos: a black man hanging from a tree. USA Today writes Byrd's death "is still considered one of the grisliest racial killings in American history." The latest:

  • The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 5-4 on Tuesday to let King's execution proceed. Though he's often referred to as the mastermind of the crime, King has maintained his innocence throughout all his appeals, reports the Houston Chronicle, saying he left the two other men he was with prior to Byrd being killed.
  • His last shot is with the Supreme Court, and the AP says his lawyers have argued that his constitutional rights were violated because his trial lawyers ignored his desire to "present his innocence claim at trial."

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