Dr. J. M. Gary was shot to death July 17, 1902 in Trinity County. He was a practicing physician in Groveton and he was called to come to the aid of a gunshot victim at the Sylvan hotel. Howard Magee, Otho Oldacre and Wright Terry were indicted for first degree murder. They were tried before J. M. Smither in Walker County on change of venue. The shooting occurred after midnight in Groveton. L. B. Eagle had sought out the doctor to come to the aid of a gunshot victim at the Sylvan Hotel. Eagle was also murdered alongside Gary. The two murders were tried separately and Howard Magee had been acquitted of Gary’s murder.
24. Who Killed Dr. Gary? Crime Behind the Pine Curtain
We will post updates here for this developing story.
Execution set for Wednesday in 1998 Jasper hate crime
John William King, one of the three men convicted of the
horrific death of James Byrd Jr. of Jasper, has a date with death Wednesday.
Barring any a last-minute stay, King will be strapped to a gurney in the
execution chamber in the Huntsville unit and given lethal injection.
On Monday, his appeals to the Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals and the Board of Pardons and Paroles were denied.
Lawrence Ruzzell Brewer was put to death in 2011 and Shawn
Berry is serving a life sentence.
The Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear King’s
case when the current session opened in October 2018.
Jasper police found the dismembered body of James Byrd on Huff
Creek Road in Jasper early Sunday morning, June 7, 1998. His torso, legs and
left are were found in front of a church. The rest of his body was found 1.5
miles down the road.
At King’s trial, a forensic pathologist found that Byrd’s
injuries were consistent with being dragged by a vehicle by a chain wrapped
together by a chain.
Investigators followed the blood trail down the road to an
area where it appeared a fight had occurred, court records show.
Police recovered a cigarette lighter engraved with “KKK” and
“Possum”; three cigarette butts, a can of “Fix-a-Flat”, a CD, a pack of
Marlboro cigarette, beer bottles, a button from Byrd’s shirt, Byrd’s baseball
cap and a wrench with the name “Berry” etched in it.
Byrd had been at a party on the night he was killed. He left
around 1:30 or 2 a.m., walking alone.
At around 2:30 a.m., an acquaintance saw Byrd pass, riding
in the back of a primer-gray pickup truck. Three white men were in the cab.
On Monday morning, a Jasper officer stopped a primer-gray
pickup. The driver was Shawn Berry.
In the bed of the truck found tools matching those left at
the grassy area. Dried blood splatter was found under the truck and on a tire.
DNA testing proved the blood was Byrd’s.
DNA testing of cigarette butts showed one was King’s.
Other evidence indicated the cigarette lighter belonged to
King. Possum was a nickname he had in prison.
The state produced evidence showing that King developed an
intense hatred of black people while in prison. He had been released a year
before Byrd’s death.
King was the leader of a white-supremacist gang, the
Confederate Knights of America.
He had numerous tattoos that featured images popular with
white supremacy groups including the Ku Klux Klan.
HE had written letters to friends in prison indicating he
planned to make a name for himself and was planning something big for July 4.
A gang expert testified that the location of Byrd’s body,
near the church, was intended to spark terror among the black community in
In a letter to the Dallas Morning News, King claimed he was
innocent. He said Shawn Berry was responsible for Byrd’s death.
King said Berry had dropped off he and Brewer prior to the
The state refuted that by testimony from friends of the trio
as well as Byrd’s blood on one of King’s shoes.
During the mandatory appeal, King claimed ineffective
assistance of counsel. He said the attorney did not offer evidence that could
have provided him an alibi.
The appeals court rejected each of the points of error
raised by King’s defense team.
Shawn Allen Berry is serving a life sentence in protective
custody at TDCJ’s Ramsey unit. He will have a parole review in 2038. Following
the punishment phase of Berry’s trial in 1999, jurors said they did not believe
Berry was a continuing threat.
While it’s likely that this ordeal is likely to come to an
end for King on Wednesday, the trauma will continue for Byrd’s family, the
Jasper community and East Texas will remain.
At the end of 1918, Hiram Knox Jr. borrowed money to buy more timberlands, believing it would be years before World War I ended. He struggled to continue payments before … Continue reading 16. Lillian Knox Part 2