ONE OF three men who murdered a black man in the late 1990s has been put to death by lethal injection.
John William King, along with Shawn Berry and Lawrence Brewer dragged hitch-hiker James Byrd Jr behind a truck for nearly three miles until he died.
Byrd Jr was chained to the back of the 1982 Ford pickup truck and dragged along a road on June 7 1998 before his remains were dumped in front of an African-American church.
The murder of Byrd Jr shocked America and spurred on the passing of the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which aimed to strengthen punishments for hate crimes in Texas.
King was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1999.
21 years after the murder, King was put to death for the notorious hate crime and pronounced dead at 7.08pm on Thursday at the state death chamber in Huntsville, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a statement.
He maintained his innocence up until his death, claiming that he left the other two men before Byrd was killed.
Ahead of the 44-year-old’s execution, he refused to look at witnesses which include Mr Byrd’s family.
After witnessing the execution, Byrd’s sister Carla Taylor said King’s “execution tonight was just punishment for his actions,” she said, noting that Byrd had three children and four grandchildren.
“James’ legacy continues to be of peace and non-violence.”