HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- White supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed last evening for the infamous 1998 dragging-death slaying of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas.
Byrd, 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, asked if he had any final words, replied: "No. I have no final statement."
He glanced at his parents watching through a nearby window, took several deep breaths and closed his eyes. A single tear hung on the edge of his right eye as he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms, covered with intricate black tattoos.
Byrd's sisters were among the witnesses in an adjacent room.
"Hopefully, today's execution of Brewer can remind all of us that racial hatred and prejudice leads to terrible consequence for the victim, the victim's family, for the perpetrator and for the perpetrator's family," Clara Taylor, one of Byrd's sisters, said.
She called the punishment "a step in the right direction." "We're making progress," Taylor said. "I know he was guilty so I have no qualms about the death penalty."
Appeals to the courts for Brewer were exhausted and no last-day attempts to save his life were filed.
John William King, now 36, also was convicted of capital murder and sent to death row for Byrd's death, which shocked the nation for its brutality. King's conviction and death sentence remain under appeal.
A third man, Shawn Berry, 36, received a life prison term.