The United States has executed Brandon Bernard, a black man involved in the 1999 killing of a couple despite appeals from advocacy groups, jurors, and others after President Donald Trump ordered series of prisoner executions in his final days in office.
Bernard, 40, from Texas, was on Thursday, December 10, given a lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Meanwhile, he was 18 when he and four other teenagers participated in the murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley, a couple on their way from a Sunday church service in Killeen, Texas, in 1999.
Bernard is the ninth federal inmate who has been executed since July when US President Donald Trump lifted a17-year freeze on federal executions. His execution came days after Trump ordered series of federal executions in his final days in office after losing his re-election to Democrat Joe Biden.
Bernard’s case actually drew the attention of anti-death penalty advocates, celebrities including reality star Kim Kardashian as they pleaded for pardon and highlighted several factors including his age when the crime occurred and how race influenced his sentencing.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nationwide civil rights group tweeted before Thursday’s execution that “5 of the 9 jurors who sentenced him to die, as well as the appellate prosecutor who pushed for a death sentence, now do not believe he should die.”
“The federal government should not be allowed to kill Brandon Bernard—or anyone. Tonight’s execution should not go forward.
Reality TV Star, Kim Kardashian, was among those who had asked Trump to stop the execution. She made a last-minute appeal on Thursday, saying she had spoken to Bernard on the phone shortly before his execution.
She tweeted, “Just spoke to Brandon for what will likely be the last time. Hardest call I’ve ever had. Brandon, selfless as always, was focused on his family and making sure they are ok. He told me not to cry because our fight isn’t over (inserts tear-faced emoji).
She later confirmed his death in a series of tweets and revealed his last messages before he was put to death.
“I’m so messed up right now. They killed Brandon. He was such a reformed person. So hopeful and positive until the very end. More importantly, he is sorry; sorry for the hurt and pain he has caused others.”
She continued, “As he was in the chair his attorney called me and they just had their last call and said this… Brandon said he loves you and wants to say thank you again. He said he doesn’t feel too claustrophobic in the chair.”
“Brandon wanted me to tell every single person who worked on his behalf supporting him in any way, thank you. He was certain he was gonna have the chance to tell you all himself and write you all letters, but he told me to tell you all how grateful he is for you.
“His main message that he learned in his life was not to hang out with the wrong crowd. That was so important to him that he shared that with the youth. It got him caught up and he made poor choices.
“The most important thing that he said was a gift to his mum, sisters and family was the validation the public support gave family. His family knew him inside and knew it wasn’t his mistake he made as a teenager—but he was sad his family felt shame.
“With the public support, he felt the shame could go away and it validated him to his family that the world also knew he was better than his teenage self.
“We would talk about music a lot and how he’s gotten into classical music lately to soothe his soul. He’s a master at crochet and would laugh that if someone just saw his cell, they would think it was a grandma’s cell.
“I could go on and on about what an amazing person Brandon was. I do know he left this earth feeling supported and loved and at peace. This just has to change: our system is just so fucked up,” she ended.
This is just heartbreaking in all sense of the word.