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Convicted ringleader in Texas dragging death to be executed

A man who orchestrated one of the most gruesome hate crimes in U.S. history faces execution in Texas.

John William King is scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday evening in the June 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas.

The 44-year-old King, who is white and an avowed racist, was put on death row for chaining Byrd to the back of a truck and dragging his body along a secluded road outside Jasper, Texas. Prosecutors said Byrd was targeted because he was black.

In this Wednesday, April 10, 2019, photo Mylinda Byrd Washington, 66, left, and Louvon Byrd Harris, 61, hold up photographs of their brother James Byrd Jr. in Houston. James Byrd Jr. was the victim of what is considered to be one of the most gruesome hate crime murders in recent Texas history. (AP PhotoJuan Lozano)

The hate crime put a national spotlight on Jasper, which was branded with a racist stigma it has tried to shake off ever since.

King would be the second man executed in the case. A third man received a life sentence.

This April 12, 2019, photo shows the gravesite of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas. Byrd was killed on June 7, 1998, after he was chained to the back of a pickup truck and dragged for nearly three miles along a secluded road in the piney woods outside Jasper in what is considered one of the most gruesome hate crime murders in recent Texas history. (AP PhotoJuan Lozano)

This April 12, 2019, photo shows a section of Huff Creek Road in Jasper, Texas, where James Byrd Jr., who was black, was dragged to death by three white men in what is considered one of the most gruesome hate crime murders in recent Texas history. John William King, the convicted ringleader of Byrd's death, is set to be executed on Wednesday, April. 24, 2019. (AP PhotoJuan Lozano)

This April 12, 2019, photo shows a bench donated by a foundation started by the family of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas. The bench is located in front of the county courthouse in Jasper, Texas, where two of the three men convicted for Byrd's death, considered one of the most gruesome hate crime murders in recent Texas history, were tried. John William King, the convicted ringleader of Byrd's death, is set to be executed on Wednesday, April. 24, 2019. (AP PhotoJuan Lozano)