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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK

World: Americas

Death sentence for Texas racist

Lawrence Brewer: Sentenced by all-white jury

White supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer has been condemned to death for a brutal racist murder.

A 12-member, all-white jury in Bryan, Texas, decided Brewer's fate on Thursday following more than 14 hours of deliberations over two days.

Brewer, 32, now faces death by lethal injection for killing James Byrd last year near Jasper, Texas.

[ image: James Byrd was the victim of a brutal race murder]
James Byrd was the victim of a brutal race murder
In one of the grisliest racial crimes since the civil rights era, Mr Byrd was beaten up and chained to a pick-up truck before being dragged along a road for three miles (5km). His body was decapitated when it hit a concrete sewer.

Brewer had claimed in court that although he was present that night, he took no part in the killing.

Another defendant in the case, John William King, 24, has been on death row since his conviction in February for Mr Byrd's murder. A third man, Shawn Allen Berry, 24, is awaiting trial next month.

Admits joining supremacists

The killing shocked the US and was condemned by President Bill Clinton.

Prosecutors said they believed the three men killed Mr Byrd, 49, to promote their fledgling white supremacist organisation - the Confederate Knights of America - and initiate Berry into the group.

In his evidence, Brewer blamed the other two for the killing on 7 June, last year.

He said King had started a fight with Mr Byrd, and Mr Berry had slashed the victim across the throat before chaining him to the bumper of the pick-up truck.

Brewer told the jury he had kicked Mr Byrd but he "had no intention of killing nobody".

But he did admit to joining the Confederate Knights of America while serving time in a Texan prison with King.

Brewer's father had argued in court that his son had joined the racist gang which carried out the killing, only after being brutalised and abuses by black inmates in prison.

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20 Sep 99 | Americas
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