AP Photo/Byrd Family Photo
AP Photo/Byrd Family Photo

A killer in one of the most gruesome hate crimes in modern U.S. history was executed Wednesday by lethal injection in Texas.

John William King, 44, was pronounced dead shortly after 7 p.m. local time in a Hunstville prison after murdering James Byrd, Jr., two decades ago in Jasper, Texas. 

King and two other white men were convicted of murdering Byrd in the early morning hours of June 7, 1998. They beat Byrd, 49, chained him to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him for three miles down a logging road in Japser County, tearing his body apart.  

Prosecutors said Byrd was targeted because he was black. King, a white supremacist who orchestrated the attack, is the second man to be executed in the case. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in 2011 while Shawn Allen Berry was sentenced to life in prison. 

For the full story, visit USAToday.com/News/Nation.

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