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White supremacist executed for dragging black man behind truck

 King was escorted by sheriff and Texas Ranger through a Jasper County Courtroom in 1999.

The ringleader one of the most horrific hate crimes in American history has been executed.

White supremacist John William King lost a late request for a reprieve when Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a stay of execution.

King was accused of masterminding the killing of James Byrd Jr in June 1998, who was dragged behind a truck.

King was administered a lethal injection at the Huntsville Unit at the Texas State Penitentiary for his role in the brutal murder.

He was pronounced dead at 7.08pm local time - 12 minutes after the lethal dose began.

Asked if there's a final statement, the convicted killer simply responded a word 'no'.

He did not open his eyes and took 'one deep breath, one exhale' during the execution.

King gave a written statement prior his execution, which reads: "Capital punishment: them without the capital get the punishment."

He was the second person sent to the death chamber over the killing.

Lawrence Russell Brewer died by lethal injection in 2011.

A third man, Shawn Berry, was sentenced to life in prison.

James Byrd Jr, 49, was dragged behind a truck for three miles by John William King.

The three men, led by King, had picked up father-of-three Byrd and drove him to a secluded area where they beat him and spray-painted his face.

They then tied a logging chain around his ankles and dragged him behind a pickup truck for almost three miles dismembering him as they drove.

Police found most of the 49-year-old’s body in front of a church outside Jasper, Texas, two hours northeast of Houston.

 James Byrd Jr, 49, was dragged behind a truck for three miles by John William King.

The church was home to a black cemetery.

The rest of Byrd's body was found about a mile and a half away, court records showed.

"Byrd's death and dismemberment were caused, according to the pathologist, when he was slung into a culvert (an open drain under the road) on the side of the road," according to the records.

A trail of blood led police to a field that showed signs of a fight.

There, police recovered a lighter engraved with "KKK" and "Possum", cigarette butts, a button from Byrd's shirt, his baseball cap and a wrench inscribed with the name “Berry."

Byrd's friends told police they'd seen the victim at a party and that he'd left around 2am on June 7. He was later seen riding in the back of a pickup with three white men in the cab.

Traffic police stopped Berry a day after the killing. They found a tool set matching the wrench, blood spatters under the truck and a rust stain in the pattern of a chain.

The blood matched Byrd's, and the tyres on Berry's truck matched tracks at the scene.

 Mr Byrd was dragged for three miles along roads in East Texas.

The cigarette butts contained King's DNA, and police learned King's nickname was Possum. Investigators also found a 24-foot logging chain in a covered hole in the woods behind a home belonging to King's and Brewer's friend.

Another damning piece of evidence was a wall scribbling in King's cell in which he described Berry, who had confessed and cooperated with police, as a "snitch ass traitor.”

He is eligible for parole in 2038.

Byrd's family say tensions still exist in Jasper between the white and black communities 20 years on.

"I think, quite frankly, people in Jasper are tired of talking about it.

“They want to forget it," said Mylinda Washington, 66, one of Byrd's sisters. "It happened here, and we need to always have that in front of us."

America was so shocked by the murder it forced Texas to pass the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act in 2001.

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