HUNTSVILLE (September 21, 2011)—Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, received a lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville for the dragging death of a black man 13 years ago in Jasper.
James Byrd, Jr., 49, of Jasper was chained to the back of a pickup truck and pulled whip-like to his death along a bumpy asphalt logging road on June 7, 1998 in one of the most grisly hate crime murders in recent Texas history.
Byrd’s dismembered and decapitated body was found the next day.
Brewer was the first of two men convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die for the killing.
Accomplice John William King remains in on death row while his case is on appeal.
A third man, Shawn Berry, got a life sentence for his role in the murder.
Brewer's punishment put the spotlight back on Jasper, which was branded by the crime.
The perception of racism has resurfaced with an attempt to oust three black city council members who helped confirm a black man as police chief.
Brewer and one of his co-defendants were documented members of the Confederate Knights of America, according to court records.
Texas prison officials said Brewer was in good spirits and joking with officers as he arrived in Huntsville Wednesday afternoon from death row at the Polunsky Unit prison about 45 miles to the east.
He requested a large final meal that included two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a pint of ice cream, a meat lover's pizza and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts.
Texas corrections officers and state troopers closed streets within two blocks of the downtown prison where the execution was carried out.
Normally, only the street directly in front of the prison is blocked as an execution nears.
Prison officials said extra precautions were prompted by the high-profile racial nature of the case.
The security upgrade was similar to those for the executions of other notorious inmates over the years.
Brewer had exhausted his appeals and no last-minute efforts were attempted to seek a stay.
It was the second execution scheduled this week in Texas.
On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the execution of a former Army recruiter for the rape-murder of a woman in Fort Worth nearly 10 years ago.
Cleve Foster, 47, was scheduled to die Tuesday evening in Huntsville, but the court halted the execution just hours before he was to have been taken into the death chamber.