USA - Federal. Brandon Bernard, 40, Black, was executed.
|USA - Brandon Bernard (federal)
December 10, 2020:
The federal government has executed Brandon Bernard as appeals across several weeks from advocacy groups, jurors and others for a stay to his execution went unheeded.
Bernard, 40, Black, was given a lethal injection of phenobarbital at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, and media witnesses reported his death at 9:27 p.m. (02:27 GMT).
Just hours before the execution was scheduled, the Supreme Court denied a request from Attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, who recently joined Bernard's team.
Brandon Bernard was sentenced to death in 2000 in Waco, Texas, at just 18 years old, making him one one of the youngest people ever to receive a federal death sentence.
In 1999, three teenagers kidnapped Todd and Stacie Bagley at gunpoint, forced them in the trunk of their own car and drove around for several hours while trying to pawn Stacie Bagley’s ring. Bernard and another teenager joined the trio later in a separate car. Eventually one of the teenagers who had abducted the Bagleys, Christopher Vialva, shot the couple in the head while they were still in the trunk, killing Todd and knocking Stacie unconscious. Vialva then directed Bernard to light the car on fire, which he did.
The government tried Bernard and Vialva together as adults (the other three defendants were under 18 and were not charged with capital offenses.)
Vialva was given the death sentence on three capital counts; Bernard was given life without parole on two counts and the death sentence on one. Vialva, who was 19 at the time of the crime, was executed on Sept. 22, 2020.
Since Bernard’s execution was scheduled on Oct. 16, a growing number of advocates, including Kim Kardashian West, have publicly expressed support for the stay, arguing that the death penalty, which is usually understood to be reserved for the “worst of the worst,” should not be imposed on an accomplice who didn’t fire the gun.
Five of the nine surviving jurors who sentenced Bernard to die have since said they no longer believe Bernard should be executed. Eleven members of that jury were white; all five of the defendants charged were Black.
Angela Moore, a federal prosecutor who defended Bernard’s death sentence on appeal, has also since reversed her position, urging in a Nov. 18 op-ed that Bernard’s life should be spared and that “executing Brandon would be a terrible stain on the nation’s honor.”
And on Dec. 8, The New Yorker reported that the Department of Justice’s pardon office has “strongly” recommended Bernard’s sentence be commuted to life, and repeated the recommendation in a report to the White House.
The Justice Department refused to delay the execution of Bernard, however, as well as the execution of another inmate scheduled for Friday and three more in January, even after eight officials who participated in the November 19 (see) execution of Orlando Hall tested positive for the coronavirus. Bernard becomes the 9th person executed this year by the federal system, the 12th person executed by the federal government since it resumed executions in 2001, the 16th person executed this year in the United States, and the 1,528 since the United States reintroduced the death penalty in 1976 and resumed executions in 1977. He also is the youngest offender executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years, and after Orlando hall the second executed during the “lame-duck administration”.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/11/us-executes-by-lethal-injection-brandon-bernard-a-black-man (Source: Time.com, aljazeera.com, 10/12/2020)