Brandon Bernard’s execution on Dec. 10 will go on a scheduled even though five jurors who argued for his conviction have changed their minds.
Brandon Bernard, 40, is expected to die by lethal injection on Thursday, December 10, 2020 but his lawyers are using every resource they have to work against the clock to gain clemency, stemming from a 1999 trial where he was found guilty as an accomplice to murder.
A website created by Bernard’s attorneys includes important details regarding his fight for clemency. As of today, his execution is scheduled to go as planned at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terra Haute, Indiana unless Trump‘s administration intervenes. Which would make him look good.
Bernard’s case is full of complexities that don’t warrant an open and shut conviction. Five jurors who convicted Brandon now want to see his execution stayed, including the initial prosecutor who argued against his case.
When Bernard was 18-years-old he was part of a group of Black teenagers ranging from ages 15-18 who staged a carjacking and robbery. The incident went horribly awry with the fateful shooting of white youth ministers Todd and Stacie Bagley at Fort Hood in Texas. Because the Bagleys were killed on the grounds of a military base, the case is considered a federal crime.
However, Bernard was not present at the time of the carjacking and did not pull the trigger which resulted in the couple’s death. Brandon was found guilty of lighting the Bagley’s car on fire in an effort to get rid of the evidence. But his lawyers argue he was intimidated to do so at gunpoint by Christopher Vialva, Bernard’s co-defendant who was found guilty of shooting the Bagleys. Vialva was the first Black federal inmate put to death in September after the Trump administration resumed federal executions in 2020 following a 17-year hiatus.
The three other participants who played a larger role in the crime received prison sentences ranging from 20 to 35 years. Two have already been released from custody, while the last is scheduled for release in about 10 years.
Kim Kardashian fights to stop Brandon Bernard’s execution for ‘minor role’ in 1999 murders of two youth ministers
Bernard’s attorneys are asking for a stay, arguing that his first attorneys were court-appointed and withheld pertinent information from the jury like Bernard’s complicated and sometimes abusive home life. They also declined to make an opening statement which would have laid out the important facts mentioned above.
“Black teens like Brandon are systematically denied the ‘benefit’ of their youth, which is outweighed by their race in the eyes of police, prosecutors, judges and jurors,” wrote prosecutor Angela Moore, who defended Bernard’s death verdict on appeal.
Bernard has also made major character development strides and expressed remorse for what he surely deems the worst day of his life. In effect, he has acknowledged his participation is not without consequence and advocates for life in prison without the possibility of parole or a reduced sentence.