TEASER: James Byrd's hate crime killer executed in Texas White supremacist John "Bill" King, convicted of killing James Byrd Jr. in 1998 was executed by lethal injection in Hunstville, Texas on Wednesday.
King and accomplices Shawn Berry and Lawrence Brewer were found guilty of murder after kidnapping Byrd, a 49-year-old black man who'd been hitchhiking in nearby Jasper county, and dragging him behind their Ford pickup truck for 3 miles along a logging road, tearing his body apart.
The three men then dumped his lifeless, mutilated body in front of an African-American church.
Prosecutors said a "KKK" engraved lighter was among the evidence police found at the scene.
The killing led to the passing of the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which strengthens punishments for hate crimes in Texas.
King always maintained his innocence, saying he had left the two others before Byrd was killed, but in a letter King wrote after his conviction, he reportedly said quote "death before dishonor...we have made history." Berry and Brewer were also convicted of murder.
Berry was sentenced to life in prison; Brewer was executed in 2011.