Racist executed for one of the 'worst hate crimes in history'

Racist executed for one of the 'worst hate crimes in history'

The perpetrator of one of the worst hate crimes in history has been executed today, with the racially-motivated killer of a black man receiving the death penalty.

John William King, 44, died by lethal injection in Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, after becoming one of three men to be convicted of the murder of African American James Byrd Jr, who was killed in such horrifying fashion that Congress was forced to pass new laws surrounding hate crimes.

John William King led away Credit: Getty

According to CNN, Jeremy Desel with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said that King had no last words, though he penned a written statement that simply said: "Capital Punishment: Them without the capital get the punishment."

King was pronounced dead at 7:08 pm local time, and Byrd's surviving family said they felt no sense of relief at King's execution, with his sister Clara Byrd Taylor saying that King showed no sign of remorse "not Wednesday, not ever".

Clara Byrd Taylor Credit: Getty

"It’s a very, very sad time," Taylor said, now 71 years old, per USA Today. "You don’t feel any satisfaction in observing this but it is absolutely necessary to send a message: Hate crimes – especially this type of savagery – will not be tolerated in our society."

Back in June 1998, friends of James Byrd Jr said they saw him traveling in the bed of a pickup truck with King, as well as Lawrence Russell Brewer and Shawn Berry. Byrd had accepted a ride from Berry, who he knew on an acquaintance basis.

King was allegedly furious that Berry was giving a black man a ride, and soon took the wheel. Speaking to the other three men, he allegedly said: "Fixing to scare the s**t out of this n****r."

The three white men allegedly took Byrd out to a secluded area, where the black man was beaten and his face spray-painted before King and Brewer allegedly urinated and defecated on him. Then, the three men tied a logging chain around his ankles and dragged him with their truck for three miles.

Autopsy results show that Byrd survived around a mile and a half of that trip, before his head struck a culvert.

The brutal and inhumane nature of the killing sent shockwaves all over the United States, and stars such as basketball player Dennis Rodman and actor Will Smith paid their respects, with Rodman even stepping forward to pay for Byrd's funeral.

James Byrd Jr gravestone Credit: Getty

There was a small silver lining in the case, however; Byrd's tragic death helped Texas and Congress to push through legislation on hate crimes in the United States.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, formed after Byrd's murder and the killing of gay student Matthew Shepard (who was beaten to death in Wyoming), was passed in the year 2009.