The US federal government executed Brandon Bernard, a black man from Texas implicated in the 1999 murder of a couple, amid weeks-long appeals by advocacy groups, jurors and others for a stay. its execution remained a dead letter.
Bernard, 40, received a fatal injection at federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, and media witnesses reported his death at 02:32 GMT.
Bernard is the ninth A federal detainee who has been executed since July, when US President Donald Trump lifted a 17-year freeze on federal executions – a move that has drawn condemnation from human rights and civil liberty groups.
Bernard was 18 when he and four other teenagers participated in the murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley, a couple on their way to a Sunday church service in Killeen, Texas.
His case has attracted the attention of death penalty advocates, celebrities and others across the United States due to several factors they believe should have granted him a stay of execution, including his age at time of crime and how race influenced his conviction.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a national civil rights group, tweeted ahead of Thursday’s execution that “5 of the 9 jurors who sentenced him to death, as well as the appeals prosecutor who pushed for the death penalty, no longer believe him should die ”.
“The federal government should not be allowed to kill Brandon Bernard – or anyone. Tonight’s performance shouldn’t take place, ”the group said.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit group, said top US attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr, who both defended Trump in his impeachment case, have joined the team. defense of Bernard.
They filed a 14-day stay of execution request on Thursday to file additional documents in the case, Dunham said.
Defense lawyers had argued in court and in a pardon petition that Bernard was a junior and junior member of the group that killed the Bagleys – and that he had repeatedly expressed remorse.
“I can’t imagine what they think about the loss of their family,” Bernard said of the surviving Bagley parents in a 2016 video statement from death row.
“I wish we could all go back and change it,” said Bernard, describing participating in youth outreach programs and embracing religion since the murders. “I’ve tried to be a better person since that day,” he says.
Reality TV star Kim kardashian was among those who had asked Trump to stop the execution.
She made a last-minute call on Thursday, claiming she spoke to Bernard on the phone shortly before his execution.
I just spoke to Brandon for what will probably be the last time. The hardest call I’ve ever had. Brandon, selfless as always, focused on her family and making sure she was okay. He told me not to cry because our fight is not over. ?
– Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 10, 2020
“Brandon, selfless as always, focused on her family and making sure she was okay,” she wrote.
“He told me not to cry because our fight is not over.
The Justice Department, however, refused to delay Bernard’s execution on Thursday, as well as the execution of another detainee scheduled for Friday and three more in January, even after eight officials who participated in an execution last month have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The nine federal executions carried out this year already exceed all those carried out in the previous 56 years combined.
The federal government is preparing to execute this evening Brandon Bernard, a black man sentenced to death for a crime he committed when he was only 18 years old.
People deserve a second chance, especially with mistakes made as a teenager.
– the ACLU (@ACLU) December 10, 2020