BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — One of three white men convicted in the 1998 East Texas dragging death of a black man is arguing in an appeal that the killing was a “backwoods drug deal gone bad” and not racially motivated.
The Beaumont Enterprise reports that attorneys for John William King appeared Thursday before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
King was sentenced to death in 1999 for James Byrd Jr.’s slaying in Jasper.
Attorney A. Richard Ellis says King’s trial lawyers didn’t present evidence that would have proven his innocence.
The Texas attorney general’s office called King’s claims “meritless.”
The court didn’t immediately rule.
Lawrence Brewer, King’s co-defendant, was executed in 2011. Shawn Berry, who drove the truck to which Byrd was attached, is serving a life sentence.