Jasper, Texas, resident James Byrd Jr. didn’t cause trouble or bother anyone. He was a hardworking African American man, a father of three grown children, who, like most of us, enjoyed socializing with friends and a few beers. He was well-known in the small town. Since he did not own a car, Byrd could often be seen walking through town.
Byrd Dragged to D-eath
Byrd Jr. went to a party on June 7, 1998, in the evening, about a mile away from his house. After the party ended around one in the morning, Byrd started to walk home until he was offered a ride in a pickup truck by three men: Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and William King. Byrd knew one of the men, if not more. After accepting, he got into the truck.
While searching for women while driving around Jasper while intoxicated, the three men spotted Byrd strolling along the street. Byrd Jr. was reportedly seen by witnesses in the rear of the pickup truck between 2:30 and 2:45 in the morning.
They drove east out of Jasper instead of taking Byrd home. The men stopped in the middle of a forest on their way. There was a tragedy after the men had a few beers together. The men kicked Byrd in the head and body and then tied him up by the ankles to the back of their pickup truck.
Berry was driving the truck down a dirt path for about three miles before it turned onto the paved Huff Creek Road. Byrd was dragged for most of the trip while he was still alive. Byrd’s body hit a concrete culvert when the truck turned onto Huff Creek Road. Byrd’s arm, neck, shoulder, and head were cut off by the impact. Berry then drove another mile to an African American church, where some people took Byrd’s body off the chains and left it there.
The men then attended a BBQ.
Police Arrest Men
Law enforcement followed a 1.5-mile path of blood that led them to the man’s head, neck, and arm, as well as to his wallet, which had his ID in it. The police also found some of Byrd’s personal things. They also found cigarette butts, a lighter with the words “Possum” and “KKK” written on it, and a driver wrench with the name “Berry” written on it.
The next day, Shawn Berry was pulled over for a traffic violation. His pickup truck was a light gray primer color, the same one Scott had seen Byrd in. When the police searched the truck, they found a set of tools that matched the driver’s wrench that they had found at the scene. They also found blood on the ground below the truck.
Berry was arrested.
John King and Lawrence Brewer, Berry’s roommates, had bloody clothes and shoes in their rooms when the police searched Berry’s apartment. They were caught.
The DNA in these things and the blood on the truck were the same as Byrd’s.
Berry said that they cut Byrd’s throat before dragging him, but forensic evidence showed that he tried to keep his head up and was still alive when he hit the culvert and his head was cut off.
James Byrd Mutilated Body: Autopsy Results
An autopsy showed that Byrd had serious injuries all over his body. He had huge brush burn wounds, almost all of his ribs were broken, both testicles were gone, and gravel was found in his scrotum sac. Byrd’s knees, feet, and cheekbone had all been ground down. His behind was hacked all the way down to his sacrum and lower spine. Byrd was missing some toes and had broken others. For Byrd, he got big cuts on his legs that showed muscle. His brain and skull were completely intact.
That Byrd was still alive when his body hit the culvert and his arm, shoulder, head, and neck were cut off from the rest of his body, according to the autopsy.
KKK Denounce Byrd’s De-ath
On June 27, 1998, members of the KKK held a rally in Jasper, Texas to denounce the dragging de*ath of James Byrd, Jr.
It was agreed by all three men that King, Brewer, and Berry were well-known white supremacists. These men were then charged with a hate crime. The men didn’t feel bad about the senseless hate crime. They were all found guilty of the crime. King was put to de*ath on April 24, 2019. Berry got a life sentence in prison. Brewer was put to d*eath on September 21, 2011. He said, “I hope his family never gets over how bad he was.” No, I don’t have any regrets. I don’t feel bad. To be honest, I’d do it all over again.”
All three men were found guilty of m*urder with the de*ath penalty. Berry lied about Brewer and King so they wouldn’t get the de*ath penalty. He was given a sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole. Both Brewer and King were given the de*ath penalty. King will be put to dea*th in 2019, for Brewer in 2011.