james_byrd_web.jpgBEAUMONT, Texas (AP) _ Stella Byrd has died at 85, 12 years after her son's racially motivated dragging death in Southeast Texas shocked the world.

Daughter Betty Boatner tells KFDM-TV in Beaumont that her mother died in a Beaumont hospital Wednesday afternoon. She said her mother had a history of heart attacks and congestive heart failure.

Boatner says her mother was the backbone of her family who kept her courage after son James Byrd Jr. was dragged to death by three white men on a country road near Jasper in 1998.

Two men eventually were sent to death row for the murder, and the other received a life prison sentence.

Funeral arrangements are pending.