The Texas prison system recently read out a remorseless statement by John William King, the man who was executed on April 24 for orchestrating one of the most gruesome hate crimes in U.S. history.
King, 44, was sentenced to death for the dragging murder of James Byrd Jr., a black man. He was one of the three men convicted for the 1998 murder.
The atrocity made global headlines and inspired Congress to pass federal hate crime legislation that increased penalties for crimes motivated by race, color, religion or ethnicity.
King said “No,” when asked by a warden inside the nation’s busiest death chamber whether he had any last words before receiving a lethal injection.
The prison system released a statement that King had prepared earlier, following his death. It was read by prison system spokesman Jeremy Desel.
The statement said, “Capital punishment: them without the capital get the punishment.”
Desel described King as “stoic” just hours before he was executed.
“King did not open his eyes at any point during the process when witnesses were in the room,” Desel told the Associated Press according to The Caller Times. “When the witnesses entered the witness room, Mr. King was already on the gurney. He had his eyes closed and made very little if any movements.”
Byrd’s sister Clara Taylor, who watched the execution, said King “showed no remorse then and showed no remorse tonight.”
She told CNN that it was a “just punishment” and said, “There was no sense of relief.”
Just before his death on June 6, 1998, Byrd was at a party. He was last seen getting into a truck with King, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and Shawn Allen Berry. The three white men drove him to a secluded area, beat him up, spray-painted his face, tied his ankles with logging chains, and then dragged him for three miles on the road behind their truck.
Brewer died by lethal injection in 2011 and Berry is serving a life sentence.
The Practice of Reading Last Statement
The practice of reading the last statement of condemned prisoners didn’t go well with a Texas lawmaker who said on Monday that the practice should be stopped.
“If a death row inmate has something to say to the public or victims, let him or her say it when they are strapped to the gurney,” state Sen. John Whitmire wrote in a letter to prison officials. Whitmire has been in the Senate for nearly 40 years.
The Houston Democrat is one of Texas’ most powerful lawmakers in the criminal justice system and previously spurred the system to change its execution-day procedures.
Before his execution, Brewer ordered an extensive meal, which did not go well with Whitmire, who expressed outrage over the dining request.
The meal included two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover’s pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts.
Brewer didn’t eat anything he ordered, according to the prison officials.
Associated Press contributed to this report.