Brandon Bernard, who was put on death row for his involvement in a burglary-turned-murder in 1999, was executed on Thursday, December 10, after Kim Kardashian made an appeal to President Donald Trump to allow Bernard to stay his sentence in prison.
The Supreme Court denied the last-minute appeal from his legal team and Bernard was given a lethal injection of phenobarbital at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Bernard used his final words to apologize to the families of Todd and Stacie Bagley and said “I’m sorry.”
“That’s the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day.”
Georgia Bagley, who is Todd’s mother said that the apology “helped very much to heal my heart” and forgave Bernard, but “It has been very difficult to wait 21 years for the sentence that was imposed by the judge and jury on those who cruelly participated in the destruction of our children to be finally completed.”
Five of the nine jury members regret their verdict in the case, and even federal prosecutor Angela Moore had a change of heart, and wrote in an op-ed that there’s more understanding now on how an 18-year-old brain is not fully developed.
In November, Kardashian shone light on the case again and said that Bernard’s role was minor and he was “stunned when the robbery turned into a homicide with one of the other teens shooting both Todd and Stacie in the head.”
“The gunman then turned to Brandon, gun still in hand, and told him to light the car Todd and Stacie lay in on fire to destroy the evidence.
“Brandon believed both were dead, though Stacie was not, and was fearful for his own life, so he made the terrible decision to comply.”
Bernard was a member of the 212 Piru Bloods gang, and gunman Christopher Vialva, was executed by lethal injection earlier this year
Bernard’s lawyers dubbed the execution a “stain on America’s criminal justice system.”
“Brandon made one terrible mistake at age 18. But he did not kill anyone, and he never stopped feeling shame and profound remorse for his actions in the crime,” attorney Robert C. Owen said.
Both Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted later that the death penalty should be abolished, and model Bella Hadid said she “Can’t stop crying. This is so f**ked up.” While Senator Ted Cruz hit out at the Democrats for “siding with this vicious murder.”
Bernard was the ninth federal inmate to face the death sentence since July after Trump ended a 17-year hiatus on federal executions. Trump could have granted Bernard clemency after the Supreme Court ruling but did not take action, and has not acknowledged the execution publicly.
Executions need to eliminated, the whole criminal justice system needs more than reform it needs to be reestablished.