16 years after infamous hate crime murder, convicted killer stil - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

16 years after infamous hate crime murder, convicted killer still on death row

James Byrd, Jr. James Byrd, Jr.

This week marks 15 years since an East Texas man was sentenced to death for the racially motivated killing of another Jasper man back in 1998.

John William King was one of three men found guilty in 1999 of the hate crime against 49 year old James Byrd, Jr., after chaining him by the ankles to the back of a pickup truck and dragging the man for three miles.

But 15 years later, King argues he had no involvement in the crime and that the evidence used against him didn’t belong to him.

King’s appeal is currently under review by a U.S. District Judge in Plano, just north of Dallas. Since his sentencing, King has been on death row at a Polk County facility.

One of the other men found guilty in the case, Russell Brewer, was executed in 2011, after about 12 years on death row. The other, Shawn Berry, who was also the driver of the pickup truck, is currently serving a life sentence. Berry will be eligible for parole in 2038.

Byrd’s case not only gave Jasper the national spotlight, but it also lead to positive changes on the national scale. In 2009, President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law in 2009, a move partially prompted by Byrd’s brutal death.

At this time, it is unclear when the decision will come down on King’s appeal.

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