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James Byrd’s Killer Gets What He Deserves

John William King

Tonight the State of Texas executed John William King (above), a white supremacist who was one of the men who dragged black man James Byrd to his death. Look at those dead eyes. I had not realized that King was a Satanist (see the pentagram tattoo under his armpit above). In 1999, the assistant DA prosecuting him summarized the case like this:

Jasper County Assistant District Attorney Pat Hardy outlined evidence against King and said it was clear he killed Byrd.

“You saw it,” he told jurors. “It was obvious the man was dragged to death behind a vehicle.”

“After they dragged that poor man and dragged him to pieces, they dropped him at a cemetery to show their defiance to God and Christianity and everything most people in this county stand for,” Hardy said.

If you follow the first link above, you can see more photos of King’s Nazi and satanic tattoos, entered into evidence in his trial. In one of them, the Virgin Mary holds a baby Jesus with demonic horns.

Also in the 1990s, a self-described Satanist, Jay Ballinger, was convicted for burning down more than two dozen churches. More recently, in south Louisiana a young white man was arrested and charged with burning three black churches; he was interested in “black metal,” a music genre connected to Satanism and church burning in Norway.

I am opposed to the death penalty only because I don’t trust the state to get convictions right. If we can put prisoners away without fear that they will escape, then I prefer to err on the side of life than to risk executing an innocent man. But I don’t have a principled objection to the death penalty. I prefer a justice system that keeps monsters like John William King alive, if it means abandoning the possibility of wrongly convicted innocents going to their death. That said, John William King got what he deserved. He will not be missed.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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