As this small Texas community tried to heal itself, the father of one of three white men accused in the gruesome death of a black hitchhiker apologized for his son.

"It hurts me deeply to know that a boy I raised and considered to be the most loved boy I knew could find it in himself to take a life," Ronald King wrote in a letter released Wednesday. "Again, I want to say I'm sorry."Prosecutors are considering a death penalty case against his 23-year-old son, John William King, and two other men suspected of dragging James Byrd Jr. by a chain from the back of a pickup truck.

Mary Verrett, Byrd's sister, said Thursday that she appreciated the elder King's apology.

"As a parent myself I can understand his anguish. As a parent you question yourself, `Did I do something wrong? Did I overprotect? Did I not discipline enough?' " she told NBC's "Today."

Two of the suspects were monitored by Texas prison authorities because of their involvement in racial hate groups, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.

King and Lawrence Russell Brewer Jr., 31, had been monitored for possible affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan and the Confederate Knights of America, a skinhead group, while they were housed at the Beto I Unit in Tennessee Colony, said Sammy Buentello, assistant director of the Texas prison system's gang task force.

Buentello said one of the men had been disciplined for involvement in a 1995 racial disturbance between whites and Hispanics at Beto. Prison records show only King was in that prison at that time.