Dragging victim may have been spray-painted Authorities seek OK to test suspect's hands


JASPER, Texas -- One of the suspects in the alleged racially motivated murder of a black man may have sprayed the victim's face with black paint before he was dragged almost three miles along a winding rural road, court documents show.

The gruesome death of James Byrd Jr., 49, in the early morning of June 7 has brought international attention to Jasper. Three white men, including two who may have ties to white supremacy groups, were quickly arrested and charged with murder.

In a search warrant affidavit made public yesterday, investigators asked for tests to seek "chemical compounds forming paint" on the hands of Russell Brewer Jr., 31, of Sulphur Springs.

The affidavit said investigators found an 11-ounce can of Duplicolor spray paint among other items at a spot a mile down a dirt road where they think Byrd was savagely beaten.

The newest affidavit says Shawn Berry, 23, of Jasper, told investigators that after Byrd was beaten, "Brewer spray painted the black male's face. "

Investigators think Byrd's killers then used a towing chain wrapped around his ankles and attached to the bumper of a pickup to drag him to his death.

State District Judge Joe Bob Golden granted the search warrant request.

He also granted requests for scrapings from underneath the fingernails of Brewer, Barry and Bill King, 23, of Jasper. The scrapings, affidavits said, may reveal evidence "consistent with a struggle."

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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