A federal jury in Waco, Texas, sentenced white supremacist Robert Allen Byrd, 34, of Keene, Texas, to life in prison without parole for the kidnapping and murder of a 39-year-old Kemp woman in 2006.
The jury deliberated approximately 90 minutes before convicting Byrd of capital murder on October 15, 2008. The jury found Byrd, a "captain" in the Aryan Circle racist prison gang, guilty of beating and stabbing the woman to death.
The Aryan Circle is a large and violent white supremacist prison gang with approximately 1,500 members, mostly in Texas. Members of the Aryan Circle have been convicted of a number of murders and other violent crimes in recent years, both in and out of the prisons.
The woman's decomposed body was discovered in a wooded area in McLennan County in April 2006. According to authorities, investigators needed the expertise of a forensic facial reconstruction expert from the University of Texas at Arlington to help identify the victim using only her skull.
The woman had been a friend of Byrd's, and was allegedly married to another Aryan Circle member. Witnesses for the prosecution, including three Aryan Circle members and Byrd's ex-wife, testified that Byrd told them in graphic detail how he had killed the victim, and that he did so because he thought she was a snitch.
Byrd's ex-wife testified that Byrd told her he took the woman to a field, slashed her throat, and stomped on her face because he believed she was an FBI informant. She added that Byrd sent her to stay with a friend after the incident, believing she could be in danger as his wife due to an Aryan Circle gang rule of "a wife for a wife." She also stated that Byrd sent her a letter from jail asking her not to testify against him, and the prosecution produced evidence of a recorded telephone call from Byrd while incarcerated asking her not to testify.
Byrd, whose Aryan Circle nickname is "Big Bird," testified that he first became involved with the Aryan Circle at the age of 22 after being sent to prison for assault, and that he made an effort while incarcerated to earn a reputation for violence.
This is the second life sentence and murder conviction Byrd has received this year. Byrd is already serving a 99-year prison term for murdering a man in an unrelated incident in Hood County.