A Jasper man on death row for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd, Jr., will have a hearing Thursday afternoon to hear his claim of innocence and poor legal representation.
John William King, 42, who was one of three men convicted in the death of Byrd will have his claim reviewed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in a hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday according to the clerk's office.
The 5th Circuit said last August that it would review a claim from King who claims that his lawyers were deficient in presenting a case for innocence during his trial.
His appeal claimed only a few pieces of circumstantial evidence tied him to the scene of a fight that ended in Byrd Jr., 49, being chained by his ankles to the bumper of a truck and dragged to his death along a logging road outside of Jasper.
King says those circumstantial pieces of evidence could be innocently explained.
King was the first of three white men tried and convicted separately in the death of Byrd.
Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, was executed in 2011 for the crime and Shawn Berry, 42, is serving life in prison.
King's attorney, A. Richard Ellis, raised five claims to the 5th Circuit, four of them focusing on what he said was King receiving ineffective legal help at his 1999 trial in Jasper. The fifth claim contended a federal district judge who rejected King's appeal denied him due process and a fair hearing.
The 5th Circuit rejected all but the claim questioning the trial attorneys' effectiveness regarding some of the state's evidence in the case.
King's lead defense attorney, Haden “Sonny” Cribbs, died in June. His trial co-counsel, Brack Jones, declined to comment.