East Texas dragging death killer loses federal court appeal

East Texas dragging death killer loses federal court appeal
John William King (Source: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
James Byrd, Junior (Source: KTRE staff)
James Byrd, Junior (Source: KTRE staff)

JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A prisoner on Texas death row for the dragging death of a man nearly two decades ago in East Texas has lost a federal court appeal, moving him a step close to execution for the hate crime.
    
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week turned down an appeal from 43-year-old John William King, condemned for the June 1998 slaying of James Byrd, Junior.
    
Evidence showed the 49-year-old Byrd was chained by his ankles to the back of a pickup truck and dragged along a road outside Jasper in East Texas. Prosecutors said Byrd was killed simply because he was black. Attorneys for King argued his trial lawyers were deficient. The 5th Circuit disagreed.
    
One of two other white men convicted has been executed. The third man is serving life.

The killing inspired the Mathew Shepherd and James Byrd, Junior Hate Crimes Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009.
 
It expanded hate crimes laws to include those motivated by a victim's gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Copyright 2018 KTRE. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.