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Jury Views Dragging Death Evidence

September 15, 1999

BRYAN, Texas (AP) _ Dentures, clothing and other personal items belonging to a black man dragged to death were shown Tuesday to jurors who must decide if a second white supremacist should be convicted of the slaying.

Shoes, a wallet, a watch and shirts belonging to James Byrd Jr. and found along the road where he was killed were entered into evidence in the second day of testimony in the capital murder trial of Lawrence Russell Brewer, 32.

Jasper County Sheriff’s Detective Tommy Robinson, who was summoned to Huff Creek Road northeast of Jasper in east Texas on June 7, 1998, described what he found.

``You could see where a vehicle had left and appeared to be dragging something behind it,″ Robinson said. ``It looked like a large animal dragged down the road.″

Robinson, accompanied by another detective, reached the remains of a human body that was blocking the end of the road.

``It was a badly disfigured adult black male body, laying in the main portion of the road, feet pointing west, missing a right arm, neck and head,″ Robinson said.

Backtracking along the nearly 3-mile dragging route, they found a human head and dentures, then followed the logging road where they found beer bottles, a nut driver tool, clothing and other items, including a wallet containing the 49-year-old Byrd’s identification cards and cigarette butts, he said.

The evidence was the same used in the February trial of John William King, 24, the first of three men accused of Byrd’s slaying to be convicted and sent to death row.

Brewer also could get the death penalty if convicted.

A lighter also discovered and entered into evidence Tuesday was engraved with the name ``Possum″ and an interlocking insignia of three K’s, a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan. King’s nickname in prison was Possum.

In the King trial, DNA evidence linked the bottles and cigarette butts to all three white men.

Brewer’s lawyer Layne Walker asked Robinson why he did not change his plastic gloves after picking up each piece of evidence. Walker argued that could have led to evidence contamination.

The third man charged in the slaying and awaiting trial is Shawn Allen Berry, also 24. The name ``Berry″ was scratched on the tool found at the logging road.

King and Brewer had served time together in prison. Prosecutors say it was there that King was schooled by Brewer in white racist beliefs and hatred of blacks that led to Byrd’s slaying.

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