There’s a Devil Loose: John King, White Supremacist Responsible for Dragging Death of James Byrd Jr. 21 Years Ago, is Put to Death in Texas

Time ran out for white supremacist John William King at precisely 6.56 pm on Wednesday when his constant appeals against the death sentence for a crime that horrified America could save him no longer.

That was the moment he was given a lethal injection for one of the most notorious murders of the past 25 years — the dragging death of James Byrd Jr.

In the death chamber, King refused to open his eyes to look at three relatives of the man he had dragged three miles down backroads in Texas injuring him so badly his genitals were ground down.

When asked if he had a final statement, he responded: ‘No.’ Earlier he had submitted a nine-word statement: ‘Capital Punishment: Them without the capital get the punishment.’

King breathed his last in the Texas judicial system’s death chamber in Huntsville after the Supreme Court rejected his final appeal. He had tried to claim that his lawyer had admitted guilt in a bid to avoid the death sentence.

He was given a lethal injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital for his role as leader of three men who chained James Byrd Jr. to a pick-up truck in Jasper, Texas, in 1998 and dragging him to his death.

Criminal Justice Department spokesman Jeremy Desel said King was pronounced dead at 7:08 pm and his death was peaceful. ‘Apart from him saying the word ‘No,’ it was like he was asleep,’ he said.

Two of Byrd’s sisters, Clara Taylor and Louvon Harris and a niece Tiffany Taylor traveled to Huntsville to watch the execution. Clara Taylor called the death ‘peaceful and dignified unlike the savage, brutal, inhumane murder of James.’

She said her brother had been ‘thrown around like a sack of potatoes’ as he was dragged behind a pick-up truck.

King was the second man to be executed for the murder. A third is serving a life sentence and is not due for parole until 2034.

Bill King waited out his last hours in a holding cell immediately adjacent to the ground floor death chamber. He was hoping against hope for a stay from the Supreme Court or a grant of clemency from Texas’s fervently pro-death penalty governor Greg Abbott.

King — prisoner number 999295 — had some friends visit him as late as 11.28 am according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. But no members of his family were present to witness his death, said Desel.

He had earlier taken a shower, according to a timeline of his final days provided by the department.

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