JASPER, Tex. — Sometime after church but before dinner, Sgt. James Carter of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office knocked on the front door of James and Stella Byrd’s home. He stepped into the living room, removed his white cowboy hat and bowed his head. Then, with a somber look on his face that the Byrds still remember years later, he delivered the news that their son James Byrd Jr. was dead.
The horrific circumstances surrounding his death they would learn later: Chained by his ankles to a pickup truck by three men, he had been dragged three miles, murdered before the sun rose that Sunday morning 20 years ago….