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A jury found King guilty of capital murder in February 1999 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in October 2000. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
King had initially petitioned to waive his first appeal, which is automatic and required by Texas law whenever a death sentence is imposed. After that request was denied, he dropped his effort to waive his appeals.
Lawrence Russell Brewer's trial was moved six counties away to Brazos County. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. That sentence was carried out in September 2011. In interviews shortly before his execution, Brewer admitted participating in the attack on Byrd, but he said he had nothing to do with killing him. He accused Berry of killing the victim by cutting his throat with a knife.
Prosecutors were unable to argue that Shawn Allen Berry had a racial motive for his involvement in Byrd's killing. A jury found him guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to life in prison. He remains in custody as of this writing.
Unlike Brewer and Berry, King never publicly admitted to being present at the scene of the attack and killing of Byrd. In an interview with the media King gave in 2001, he said he was nowhere near the scene of the attack. He said that his lighter had been stolen a week earlier and the cigarette with his DNA came from a previous trip in Berry's truck. An appeal filed by his lawyers in 2018 implicated Shawn Berry and his brother, Lewis Berry, whose DNA was not found at the scene. The appeal also claimed that King's tattoos were merely a strategy for surviving in prison and did not reflect any racial hatred.
King declined the opportunity to receive counseling from a chaplain the day of his execution, and he did not select anyone to witness it.
Two of Byrd's sisters and a niece attended King's execution and watched from a viewing room adjacent to the death chamber. The execution was delayed for about a half an hour as the U.S. Supreme Court considered King's final appeal.
During the procedure, King laid on the gurney with his eyes shut. He did not give a verbal last statement, but he did provide a written statement that read, "Capital punishment. Them without the capital get the punishment." He was pronounced dead at 7:08 p.m.
Following the execution, Byrd's sister, Clara Taylor, gave a statement condemning King's actions and supporting his execution as a "just punishment."
By David Carson. Posted on 25 April 2019.
Sources: Texas Attorney General's Office, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, Associated Press, CBS News, Christian Post, Houston Chronicle, Huntsville Item, KFDM-TV Beaumont.