21 years has passed since James Byrd's gruesome death shocked the nation and devastated his family. Byrd was viciously killed by John William King and two accomplices in Jasper, Texas in 1998.
On Wednesday, King, 44, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in a Texas state prison.
King and his accomplices, Shawn Berry and Lawrence Brewer, encountered Byrd walking home after leaving a friend's house in the early morning hours on June 7, 1998. Berry, who was driving, was familiar with Byrd from around town. He offered to drive Byrd home.
But instead of taking him home, the men took him to a secluded area on the outskirts of town. There they brutally beat him, and urinated and defecated on him before chaining him by the ankles to the back of their pickup truck.
They then dragged Byrd for nearly 3 miles along a paved road. Newspapers would later publish grisly photos of Byrd's body parts scattered along the asphalt road. The police placed yellow evidence markers at 81 places where Byrd's remains were found.
During King's murder trial, the prosecutor said Byrd was alive for at least two miles before his body was ripped apart. There is evidence that he tried to hold his up off the asphalt while he was being dragged.
King and his accomplices are white. Byrd was Black. His death dominated the nation's headlines for weeks and led to changes in the way local and federal governments prosecute hate crimes.
According to FBI files, in 1999 there were 3,679 victims of anti-Black crimes. The statistics have dropped in the years since Byrd was killed.
Berry was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He spends 23 hours a day in an 8-by-6 cell in protective custody at a Texas prison. He will be eligible for parole when he is 63 years old in June 2038.
Brewer, an unrepentant racist, was executed on Sept. 21, 2011. He expressed no remorse for his crime.
In a letter from King to Brewer before his execution, King wrote, "Regardless of the outcome of this, we have made history. Death before dishonor. Sieg Heil!"
Byrd's family, who still live in Jasper, fondly remembered him to a reporter. They recalled how he loved to play trumpet in his high school band and sing exuberantly in the church choir.
Byrd once told his family he would "put Jasper, Texas, on the map" one day.
"He thought it would be because of his music," said Louvon Harris, one of his sisters. "Never did we think it would be because of his death," she said.
"Now when you mention Jasper, you associate Jasper with James, Harris said. "It's sad to know it was for a different reason than he anticipated."
Photos by PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images