Family Holds Vigil Ahead Of Convicted Murder's Execution

James Byrd, Jr. Killed 13 Years Ago

JASPER, Texas - The family of James Byrd, Jr., held a vigil the night before one of his murderers is scheduled to be executed.

Hundreds of people packed into a church to pray for peace on Tuesday.

Byrd died 13 years ago.

"Each day is getting a little better. We just try to take one step at a time and move forward," said Betty Boatner, Byrd's sister.

Boatner added that the family has forgiven her brother's killers.

One of his killers, Lawrence Brewer, is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday.

In 1988, he and two others, John King and Shawn Berry, chained Byrd to the bumper of a pick-up truck and dragged him down a rural road. The murder was quickly labeled a hate crime because the three suspects were believed to be white supremacists.

"He [Brewer] says he has no remorse and I feel sorry for him, but forgiveness brings about healing. We had begun to heal a long time ago," said Boatner.

King is on death row. Berry is serving life in prison.

The dragging death of Byrd led to new hate crimes laws in Texas with stiffer penalties for offenders.

Earlier on Tuesday, people gathered to Byrd's grave to remember him.

But Boatner said that the family is thinking about Brewer, too.

"We're praying for his family as well as our family, and for the citizens of Jasper. We already made peace with it a long time ago," she said.

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