Brandon Bernard to be executed today for the 1999 murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley despite Kim Kardashian’s campaign
His lawyers, in a statement to MEAWW, said: 'The petition and stay motion point out that the government’s misleading 'predictions' of Mr. Bernard’s future dangerousness were entirely false'
Federal death row inmate, Brandon Bernard, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, December 10, despite campaigns by reality television star Kim Kardashian West and other celebrities supporting him. A judge, on Tuesday, December 8, upheld Bernard's death sentence and denied a request to lift the 40-year-old's conviction.
Bernard, sentenced for robbery and murder, would be the ninth federal prison to be executed this year, months after President Donald Trump's administration resumed executions after 17 years. Bernard's attorneys have argued that during their client's trial a key piece of evidence was withheld: A witness who stated that Bernard had a low rank in the gang that robbed and murdered Todd and Stacie Bagley. The Bagleys were shot by Christopher Vialva in 1999 at Fort Hood in Texas, while Bernard, who was 18 at the time, set the couple's car on fire with them inside it. According to the autopsy reports, Todd died of a gunshot wound while Stacie died of smoke inhalation. Court records revealed that the Bagleys had prayed for their attackers and had begged for mercy. Vialva was executed by lethal injection on September 24 this year.
Brandon Bernard, a 40-year-old father is going to be executed tomorrow by our federal government. Having gotten to know Brandon, I am heartbroken about this execution. I’m calling on @realDonaldTrump to grant Brandon a commutation and allow him to live out his sentence in prison. https://t.co/soccUQFmac— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 9, 2020
Bernard was one of 212 Piru Bloods gang members who attacked the Bradleys. Two of the teens reportedly approached Todd, a veteran, and asked him if he could give them a ride to their uncle's home. Vialva and another man pulled guns on the couple inside their car, stole their wallets and jewelry, and forced the pair into the trunk of the vehicle. Vialva then decided that the pair needed to be killed. He then met up with Bernard and another teen and the former poured lighter fluid over the vehicle and lit it on fire, court documents state.
His lawyers, in a statement to MEAWW, said: "The petition and stay motion point out that the government’s misleading 'predictions' of Mr. Bernard’s future dangerousness were entirely false. In two decades on death row, he has never had a single disciplinary infraction, nor has he had any gang involvement in prison. His application for clemency is supported by the retired warden of the federal prison complex at Terre Haute, who believes that Mr. Bernard poses no danger to staff or prisoners in a less restrictive custody setting."
Judge James Sweeney, of the US District Court of the Southern District of Indiana, however, in a written order on Tuesday stated that the witness' account was not compelling enough to overcome the death sentence decision reached by the jury. He wrote that Bernard's sentence "reflects the actual conduct in this case," instead of considering the gang's "hierarchy in general," IndyStar reported.
"Namely, the jury recommended a life sentence for Mr. Bernard where the murder of Mr. Bagley was directly attributable not to Mr. Bernard but to the bullet fired by Mr. Vialva,” Sweeney wrote. "And the jury recommended a death sentence for Mr. Bernard only where the murder of Mrs. Bagley was attributable, at least in part, to smoke she inhaled from the fire directly set by Mr. Bernard," he added.
Ever since the announcement of Bernard's execution date, several celebrities have called for a stay on it. Kim Kardashian, over the Thanksgiving weekend, had urged her Twitter followers to sign a petition urging President Donald Trump to commute Bernard’s life sentence. The reality TV star and a criminal justice reform activist had tweeted that Bernard was involved in a "terrible crime" but "his role was minor compared to that of the other teens involved, two of whom are home from prison now."