John William “Bill” King, one of the three right-wing extremists responsible for the horrific murder of 49-year-old black James Byrd Jr., was executed yesterday. Byrd Jr. died after three white men, including King, had tied Byrd behind their truck and then dragged him along a paved road for a few kilometers. It is one of the most notorious hate crimes in recent US history.
44-year-old John William “Bill” King received a deadly injection last night at ten pasts seven in Huntsville, Texas. Just before King died, he wrote down his last words: “Capital Punishment (the death penalty, ed.): The punishment for people without capital.”
King was accused, along with Shawn Berry and Laurence Brewer, of the kidnapping of James Byrd Jr., who was walking home on June 7, 1998, from a party in Jasper, Texas. They tied Byrd to their Ford pickup truck, dragged him 5 kilometers, and then dumped his lifeless body in front of an African-American church. A lighter with engraved KKK, the abbreviation of the Ku Klux Klan, the organization known for racist violence, was one of the evidence that the police found at the crime scene.
King was found guilty of murder in 1999 and sentenced to death. He was a member of an organization of white supremacists. He had already spent time in jail before. Then he said that he wanted to start a race war. He wanted new members of his organization to kidnap black people and kill them.
Brewer, one of King’s henchmen, was executed in 2011. Berry got a life sentence. King has always held on to his innocence. He claimed he was no longer with the other two men when Byrd was murdered.
Byrd’s sister read a statement in the name of the family after attending the execution with another sister and niece: “The execution was a fair punishment for his actions,” she said, referring to the fact that Byrd had three children and four grandchildren.
King’s execution is the fourth of this year in the US. Three took place in Texas.