James Byrd, Jr. (May 2, 1949 – June 7, 1998) was an African-American who was murdered by three white men, asserted to be white supremacists, in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer, and John King dragged Byrd behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head. The murderers drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper. Byrd’s lynching-by-dragging gave impetus to passage of a Texas hate crimes law. It later led to the federal October 22, 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, commonly known as the Matthew Shepard Act. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on October 28, 2009.
Lawrence Brewer was executed by lethal injection for this crime by the state of Texas on September 21, 2011. King remains on Texas' death row while appeals are pending,  while Berry was sentenced to life imprisonment.
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