Death of Texas Man Stirs Racial Tension By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS PARIS, Tex. (AP) In a gruesome case with powerful echoes of the dragging death of James Byrd a decade ago, a black man was killed beneath a truck in East Texas and two white men have been charged with murder. Black activists and the victims mother are calling last months killing of Brandon McClelland, 24, a racist attack. But prosecutors cast doubt on that on Friday. Mr. McClelland died after going with two white friends on a late-night beer run across the Oklahoma state line, investigators said. The authorities said he was run over and dragged as far as 70 feet. His torn-apart body was discovered along a bloodstained rural road on Sept. 16. The case has raised racial tensions in Paris, a town of 26,000 with a history of race problems. Paris is 73 percent white and 22 percent black. To some, it resembled the Byrd case of 1998, in which a black man in the East Texas town of Jasper, about 200 miles south of Paris, was chained by the ankles to the back of a pickup by three white supremacists and dragged three miles. Two of the killers are now on death row; the third is serving a life sentence. Prosecutors in the McClelland case said they were looking into whether one of the defendants, Shannon K. Finley, had been in a white supremacist gang while in prison for killing a friend. But they said they had seen no evidence that Mr. McClellands slaying was racially motivated. And they said the three men had been friends for years. This is a group of guys who had black friends and white friends, said Allan Hubbard, a spokesman for the Lamar County district attorneys office. Any comparison to Jasper and James Byrd is preposterous. Autopsy results are expected this week. Investigators did not think Mr. McClelland had been tied to the truck, but they planned to look for evidence of how he was dragged. A flier advertising a memorial service for Mr. McClelland said he had been the victim of a brutal and racist hate crime. The New Black Panthers met with investigators and held a news conference promising to examine the killing. I truly feel that race played a part in it, said the victims mother, Jacquline McClelland. It is a racist town, and Paris has always been a racist town. According to court papers, Mr. Finley and Charles R. Crostley, both 27, told the police they had left the dry town to get beer in Oklahoma, and on the way back, the three men, all apparently drunk, argued about who was sober enough to drive. Mr. McClelland, a maintenance worker, decided to walk home, taking some beer with him, the men told the police. But Mr. Finleys estranged wife and one of his friends said they had been told by the two defendants that Mr. Finley began to bump Mr. McClelland with his truck until Mr. McClelland fell, and Mr. Finley drove over him, according to court papers. Mr. Finley and Mr. Crostley reportedly drove to a carwash to clean off the blood. Mr. Crostley and Mr. Finley are jailed on charges of murder and evidence-tampering. My heart goes out to the victims family and friends. No parent should ever have to bury a child. It's devastating to the soul. However, there has to be more to this story than is being told. It's horrible and wrong but something is fishy here.