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Testimony was set to begin today in the trial of the second of three white supremacists accused of dragging a black man to death behind a pickup truck last year in Jasper, Texas.

A jury of 12 people, none of them black, will decide the fate of Lawrence Russell Brewer, 32, who faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering James Byrd on June 7, 1998.

The killing shocked the nation for both its brutality and its reminder of Old South lynchings.

Byrd, 49, was beaten, chained to the back of a pickup truck and dragged three miles along a road in the backwoods of eastern Texas. His head was severed from his body, which was dumped in front of a rural black cemetery.

John William King, a friend of Brewer's from prison, was convicted of the crime in February by a jury that included one black and was sentenced to die by injection. He is on death row while his case is being appealed.

King was tried in Jasper, but Brewer's trial was moved 135 miles west to Bryan in search of an unbiased jury.

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