Texas conducted an execution September 21, the same night Troy Davis was executed in Alabama. The condemned was a White supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer. He was one of three White males who dragged James Byrd, Jr. behind a pickup truck in Jasper, Texas. He died a horrific death. Brewer's execution did not draw protesters or media interest.
On June 7, 1998, Byrd, age 49, was hitch-hiking in Jasper, Texas when he accepted a ride from Shawn Berry (age 24), Lawrence Brewer (age 31) and John King (age 23). Berry was driving the gray Ford pickup. Instead of taking Byrd home, the trio took him to a remote county road, where they beat him and then chained him to the back of the pickup by his ankles. He was dragged three miles.
Berry, Brewer and King dumped James Byrd's decapitated, mutilated remains in front of a Black church. His head and arm were found a mile from his dumped body. The dragging had continued after the decapitation. After killing Byrd the trio went to eat barbecue. Along the area where Byrd was dragged, authorities found a wrench with "Berry" written on it. They found a lighter inscribed with "Possum", which was King's prison nickname. The three of them were quickly arrested. Brewer and King were well known White supremacists. King several tattoos, including a Black man getting lynched from a cross.
For their brutal act of violence, King and Brewer were sentenced to death. Berry is serving a life in prison. King was on death row for 12 years, appealing his sentence. A park in Jasper has been named after Byrd.
Livingston responded right away, writing: “Effective immediately, this practice has been terminated. Prior to execution, death row offenders will now receive the same meal served to other offenders.”
Whoever said that “one monkey don’t stop the show” got it wrong. This time in Texas a condemned monkey did stop their inclination to harm and kill.
According to the Houston Chronicle (Sept. 22): “Brewer, 44, made no final statement before the lethal drugs were started at 6:11 p.m. He was declared dead 10 minutes later. Brewer, visibly pale, looked toward the witness room occupied by his parents and brother. He did not make eye contact with Byrd's two sisters and niece, who occupied an adjoining witness room.
'Tears began to form in his eyes as he breathed heavily and died. Clara Taylor and Louvon Harris, the victim's sisters, stood silently as the execution took place,”wrote the Chronicle.
Over 200 people crammed inside the small to attend James Byrd's funeral, that included Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume. Another 600 people stood outside the small church, unable get inside. Basketball star Dennis Rodman paid for Byrd's funeral, and boxing promoter Don King donated $100,000 to the family.