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The Latest: Texas executes man for 1998 dragging death

April 25, 2019
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This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John William King. The white supremacist on Texas death row who orchestrated one of the most gruesome hate crimes in U.S. history faces execution for the infamous dragging death nearly 21 years ago of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas. King is scheduled to receive lethal injection Wednesday evening, April 24, 2019. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the execution of a man who orchestrated the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. nearly 21 years ago in Texas. (all times local):

7:20 p.m.

An avowed racist who orchestrated one of the most gruesome hate crimes in U.S. history has been executed in Texas for the dragging death of a black man.

John William King, who was white, received lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 1998 slaying of James Byrd Jr., who was chained to the back of a truck and dragged along a road outside Jasper, Texas.

Prosecutors said Byrd was targeted because he was black.

The 44-year-old King was put to death at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.

The hate crime put a national spotlight on Jasper, a town of about 7,600 residents near the Texas-Louisiana border that was branded with a racist stigma it has tried to shake off ever since.

King was the second man executed for Byrd’s killing. A third man was sentenced to life in prison.

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6:35 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused a last-day appeal from condemned Texas inmate John William King, clearing the way for his execution for the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. nearly 21 years ago.

John William King is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for orchestrating one of the most gruesome hate crimes in U.S. history.

A Texas town and family is still haunted by a gruesome hate crime in which a black man was dragged behind a pickup truck and killed by three white men nearly 21 years ago. The ringleader behind that murder is scheduled for execution this week. (April 23)
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Prosecutors say the 44-year-old King and two other white men chained Byrd to the back of a truck and dragged his body along a secluded road outside Jasper, Texas, in June 1998.

Prosecutors said Byrd was targeted because he was black.

The justices ruled about 30 minutes after King’s execution was scheduled to be carried out. His attorneys had argued King’s trial lawyers violated his constitutional rights by not presenting his claims of innocence and conceding his guilt.

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5:15 p.m.

Prison officials say condemned killer John William King is stoic as he awaits execution for the death of a black East Texas man who was chained to the back of a truck and fatally dragged along a road nearly 21 years ago.

The 44-year-old King, a white avowed racist, arrived midafternoon Wednesday at the prison in Huntsville, Texas, where he’s scheduled for lethal injection for James Byrd Jr.’s June 1998 slaying.

Prison agency spokesman Jeremy Desel says King said little following his transfer to Huntsville from death row, at a prison 45 miles (72 kilometers) away. King has declined any counseling from a chaplain and has selected no one to witness his punishment.

Two of Byrd’s sisters and a niece are to witness the execution.

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12 a.m.

A man who orchestrated one of the most gruesome hate crimes in U.S. history faces execution in Texas.

John William King is scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday evening in the June 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas.

The 44-year-old King, who is white and an avowed racist, was put on death row for chaining Byrd to the back of a truck and dragging his body along a secluded road outside Jasper, Texas. Prosecutors said Byrd was targeted because he was black.

The hate crime put a national spotlight on Jasper, which was branded with a racist stigma it has tried to shake off ever since.

King would be the second man executed in the case. A third man received a life sentence.