Last night, September 21, 2011, the State of Texas executed Lawrence Brewer for the racially-motivated dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas in 1998. Brewer was one of two defendants sentenced to death for the shocking crime; a third defendant was sentenced to life.
Members of Mr. Byrd’s family expressed mixed feelings about the execution. His son, Ross Byrd, opposes the death penalty and told Reuters that “the execution of Brewer is simply another expression of the hate shown toward his father on that dark night in 1998. Everybody, he said, including the government, should choose not to continue that cycle.” (“Victim’s son objects as Texas sets execution in hate crime death,” September 21, 2011)
Two of Mr. Byrd’s sisters witnessed the execution and felt that it was the right outcome. His sister Louvon Harris remarked that “It’s not a happy situation. Only good part is part of it is justice has been served.” Read more of their comments on KHOU.com.
This was the 11th execution in Texas this year, out of 35 nationwide.
Also last night, the State of Georgia executed Troy Davis despite significant doubts about the reliability of his conviction and widespread international opposition. Seven of nine witnesses recanted their original testimony against him, and three jurors said they have changed their minds about his guilt.
After a brief reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the execution, word came from the highest court around 11:00 PM EST that it would not consider his appeal or grant a stay.
Mr. Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia.