How murderer of James Byrd Jr. put an end to tradition of death row inmates choosing their last meal in Texas

White supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer — who was convicted in racially motivated death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper — ordered a lavish last meal only to reject it at the last minute


                            How murderer of James Byrd Jr. put an end to tradition of death row inmates choosing their last meal in Texas

A white supremacist, John William King, who was executed on April 24 in Texas for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., was denied the option of choosing his final meal all thanks to fellow killer who got the tradition banned. 

In most US states, death row prisoners are allowed to create a menu for their last meal and they usually request food items such as hamburgers, steak, pizza, or fried chicken, and ice cream or chocolate for dessert.

Lawrence Russell Brewer, King's accomplice who was also convicted in the same case, was executed in 2011. According to the New York Times, Brewer had asked for two chicken fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions, a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger and a cheese omelet with beef mince, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos as part of his last meal before execution.

Lawrence Russell Brewer (Source: Jasper County Sheriff's Department)

He had also requested for fried okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread, three fajitas, and a meat pizza. For his dessert, he wanted ice cream and peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts. In addition to all of this, he wanted three root beers to wash down the lavish meal.

However, once all the items were ready Brewer turned his nose up at the system and refused to have even a single bite.

He told the Huntsville prison staff that he was not hungry.  

Texas lawmakers were absolutely outraged and the tradition of letting death row inmates choose their final meals was immediately stopped.

Brewer was executed by lethal injection on September 21, 2011.

According to the State Senator John Whitmire, Brewer had ordered such a lavish meal to "make a mockery" of the system.

"He never gave his victim an opportunity for a last meal. Why in the world are you going to treat him like a celebrity two hours before you execute him?" Whitmire said of Brewer. "It’s wrong to treat a vicious murderer in this fashion. Let him eat the same meal on the chow line as the others," he continued.

He wrote a letter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and said, "It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege."

King was denied the option of choosing his final meal (Source: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

As a result, prison officials terminated the 87-year-old tradition of giving special meals to death row prisoners in the state. 

Years later, John William King — who was executed on Wednesday for murdering James Byrd Jr. along with Brewer — was denied the option of choosing his final meal.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice did not reveal what King had as his last meal before his execution.