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White supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer executed for dragging death

Lawrence Russell Brewer is led from the Jasper County courthouse, April 28, 1999, following a change of venue hearing in his capital murder trial for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., in Jasper, Texas. AP

Lawrence Russell Brewer is led from the Jasper County courthouse, April 28, 1999, following a change of venue hearing in his capital murder trial for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., in Jasper, Texas.
AP Photo
(CBS/AP) HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist gang member, was executed Wednesday evening for the infamous dragging death of a black man.

James Byrd Jr., 49, was chained to the back of a pickup truck and pulled whip-like to his death along a bumpy asphalt road in one of the most grisly hate crime murders in recent Texas history.

Brewer, 44, was asked if he had any final words, to which he replied: "No. I have no final statement." A single tear hung on the edge of his right eye.

He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms, both covered with intricate black tattoos.

Brewer's parents and two of Byrd's sisters were in attendance.

Appeals to the courts for Brewer were exhausted and no last-day attempts to save his life were filed.

Besides Brewer, John William King, now 36, also was convicted of capital murder and sent to death row for Byrd's death. A third man, Shawn Berry, 36, received a life prison term.

It was about 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday, June 7, 1998, when witnesses saw Byrd walking on a road not far from his home in Jasper, northeast of Houston.

Testimony showed the three men and Byrd drove out into the county and stopped along an isolated logging road. A fight broke out and the outnumbered Byrd was tied to the truck bumper with a 24-foot logging chain. Three miles later, what was left of his remains was dumped between a black church and cemetery where the pavement ended on the remote road.

Brewer, King and Berry were in custody by the end of the next day.

King was tried first, in Jasper. Brewer's trial was moved 150 miles away to Bryan. Berry was tried back in Jasper.

  • Crimesider Staff

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