A defense attorney says charges have been dismissed against two white men accused of killing a black man in a racially charged dragging death in East Texas.

Attorney Ben Massar says Shannon Finley and Charles Crostley were released from jail in Paris Thursday afternoon after a judge granted the special prosecutor's motion to dismiss the case.

The men had been charged with fatally striking 24-year-old Brandon McClelland in September following a late-night beer-run to Oklahoma.

The case had been unraveling in recent months because of a lack of eyewitnesses and physical evidence. A gravel truck driver gave a sworn statement last month acknowledging he might have accidentally run over McClelland.

Protesters compared McClelland's death to the East Texas dragging death of James Byrd in Jasper 11 years ago.