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Execution Date Set for Texas Inmate Convicted In 1998 Dragging Death of Black Man

An April execution date looms for a white Texas man condemned for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr.

John William King faces lethal injection on April 24, 2019, for the grisly murder committed in the East Texas city of Jasper 20 years ago. King was one of three men convicted in Byrd’s June 1998 death, during which the African-American man’s body was chained to the back of a truck and dragged down a road.

John William King

John William King was one of three white men charged and convicted for tying James Byrd Jr.’s body to a truck and dragging it down the road. (Image courtesy of AP)

District Judge Craig Mixon signed the execution order on Friday, Dec. 21, The Associated Press reported. 

In February, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected King’s appeal arguing that lawyers had insufficiently presented his case and that only a few pieces of circumstantial evidence linked him to the scene of a fight that led to Byrd being chained to the truck by his ankles and dragged. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear King’s appeal, effectively sealing his fate.

The shocking murder prompted Texas to pass its own hate crime law in 2001.

A second man convicted in Byrd’s death has been executed, while a third man is currently serving a life sentence.


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