Moral Low Ground


White Supremacist Murderer Lawrence Brewer Executed in Texas

Lawrence Brewer, one of a trio of white supremacists convicted of the horrifically brutal murder of a black man in 1998, has been executed by lethal injection in Texas this evening.

According to KTRE, the 44-year-old Brewer ran out of appeals and made no last-minute attempt to stop his execution.

After a massive last meal that included two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue and a pint of ice cream, Brewer was killed by state prison authorities.

Brewer, along with John King and Sean Berry, was convicted of offering 49-year-old James Byrd Jr., a black man, a ride home from a party then attacking him, chaining his legs to the back of a pickup truck, and dragging him to death several miles along a country road near Jasper, Texas before dumping his body near a church and cemetery. So badly was Byrd  mutilated that his head and arm were torn off; he could only be identified from fingerprints.

Brewer boasted about the grisly murder.  “I did it,” he wrote shortly after the killing. ”And no longer am I a virgin. It was a rush, and I’m still licking my lips for more.”

James Byrd, Jr.

To his final days, he showed no remorse. “As far as any regrets, no, I have no regrets,” he told KHOU.  “No, I’d do it all over again, to tell you the truth.”

Byrd’s gruesome murder sparked a nationwide push for harsher punishments for hate crimes. In 2001, Governor Rick Perry signed a hate crimes bill named after Byrd into law despite strong opposition from his own Republican party. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed a similar federal bill named after Byrd and Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student tortured to death (also in 1998) because he was gay.

Betty Boatner, Byrd’s sister, welcomed Brewer’s execution. “Today is a good day as well as a sad day and what I mean by that is that I’m okay because I have gotten peace with everything and the sad thing about it is that he says he has no remorse and that saddens me,” she told KTRE. Boatner says she’s forgiven her brother’s killers.

But Ross Byrd, James’ son, has been an outspoken critic of the death penalty. “You can’t fight murder with murder,” he told Reuters. “Like Gandhi said, an eye for an eye, and the whole world will go blind.”

Brewer was the 11th person executed in Texas this year and the 34th put to death in the United States, the only Western country that still practices capital punishment.

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