James Byrd Jr's family explains the coping process as his killer is executed

Published: Sep. 21, 2011 at 11:02 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2011 at 11:11 PM CDT
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Lawrence Russell Brewer
Lawrence Russell Brewer
Betty Boatner is Byrd's sister.
Betty Boatner is Byrd's sister.
Renee Mullins is Byrd's daughter.
Renee Mullins is Byrd's daughter.
James Byrd Jr.
James Byrd Jr.

JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Wednesday night Lawrence Russell Brewer paid for the gruesome death of James Byrd Jr. with his life.

"Every time they hear his name, they will think about racism and how it destroyed his life," Byrd's sister Betty Boatner said.

Thirteen years ago, Byrd was buried in the Jasper City Cemetery after he was dragged to death. His body was dismembered.

Brewer paid the ultimate price for the brutal murder, death by lethal injection.

"As far as any regrets, no, I don't have any regrets," Brewer told a reporter in a past jailhouse interview.

"If I could say something to him, I would let him know that I forgive him and then if he still has no remorse, I just feel sorry for him," Boatner said.

Her older brother was a 49-year-old black man walking home from an anniversary dinner when he was picked up by Brewer and two other white men.

After beating Byrd, the men used a chain to tie his ankles to a truck and drag him for three miles until he was dead.

"I have forgiven Lawrence Brewer because in order for me to hate him, that's exactly what happened to my dad," Byrd's daughter Renee Mullins said.

"We forgave him," Boatner said. "We didn't convict him."

"I do pray that the Lord search his heart even though what he did was not right at all," Byron's childhood friend Sharon Whitaker said.

Brewer's punishment puts a spotlight back on Jasper. Many say although racism still exists, the stigma is changing.

Boatner said Jasper has come so far since Byrd's gruesome death, but she said the town has a ways to go and it starts with education.

As far as the punishment, a life for a life, Byrd's daughter said Brewer's death won't bring her father back.

"I don't want him to die because it's easy," Mullins said. "All he's going to do is go to sleep. My father didn't have that choice to go to sleep."

In 2009 President Barack Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act as a result of Byrd's death.

"He had told him that one day my name is going to be all over the world and if he was here today I would say James Junior, we called him son, your name is all over the world," Boatner said.

Another man's case in Byrd's death remains under appeal. A third got life in prison.

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