Update: Lawrence Russell Brewer was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. ET after being executed for the murder of James Byrd Jr., the International Business Times reports. Brewer had no final words.
Many in the United States are up in arms over the scheduled execution of Troy Davis, which is supposed to happen today at 7 p.m. While most of the media have focused on this high-profile case because of the controversy surrounding Davis' conviction and those that have come out in his defense, including Pope Benedict XVI and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, news of the impending execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer has gone unnoticed and underreported.
Brewer is one of three white supremacists convicted of the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Beaumont, Texas, in 1998. Byrd accepted a ride from the three defendants, who beat him mercilessly, urinated on his limp body, tied chains to his ankles and tied them to a truck, dragging his body three miles. It was reported that Byrd was conscious for most of the dragging, attempting to hold his head up, which was eventually severed along with his arm after his body hit a culvert. His remains were found in 75 different places.
Brewer, 44, who reportedly showed no remorse during the trial, helped fasten Byrd to the truck, pulling him along the road and dumping what was left of his shredded body outside a black church and cemetery. Brewer and John William King received the death penalty, while the third killer Shawn Allen Berry received a life sentence.
Reuters is reporting that Ross Byrd, James Byrd Jr.'s son, is hoping that the state will show Brewer the mercy that his father was not given. "You can't fight murder with murder," Ross Byrd, 32, told Reuters late Tuesday. "Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can't hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn't what we want."
Brewer is scheduled to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. local time in Huntsville, Texas.
This is a heavy day for America, with the Davis and Brewer executions scheduled on the same day and within one hour of each other. We find it interesting that Byrd's family wants Brewer spared, while MacPhail's family wants Davis executed despite the recantations by witnesses. One death row inmate is convicted of killing a police officer, and the other of participating in one of the most heinous crimes in recent American history, yet they will both be killed by lethal injection on the same day, highlighting the precariousness of the death penalty.
Is it possible to be for Davis' clemency and for Brewer's execution? Possibly, but that defies logic. Either you're for the death penalty or against it, even in the case of murderers like Brewer. We're interested in examining why justice can't involve compassion or mercy, as Ross Byrd states; why does it have to be the most severe punishment allowable by law? Whatever your thoughts, two men will more than likely die today, which is unnerving at best and a grave injustice at worst.
In other news: Troy Davis Update: Wants Polygraph Test.