The Trump administration proceeded with a new execution and created heated protests

Steph Deschamps / December 11, 2020


Brandon Bernard. That’s the name of the African American executed last night in the United States. Sentenced in 1999 in Texas for participating in a double murder, the man will have spent more than 20 years of his life in prison before being executed.


Despite numerous calls for clemency, Donald Trump had this prisoner prepare a lethal injection, despite calls for clemency as well as cases of coronavirus among the executioners.


18 years old at the time of the facts


Brandon Bernard was 18 when he and four other teenagers kidnapped and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley, a pastor couple as they returned from a Sunday service in Killeen, Texas, in which Bernard sprayed their car with lighter fluid and ignited it with their bodies in the trunk.


Some of the attackers were under 17 and escaped the death penalty. Two have already been released from prison.


But the perpetrator, Christopher Vialva, 19 at the time, and Brandon Bernard, who set the vehicle on fire, were sentenced to death in 2000 by a federal court because the crime had taken place. on military terrain. The first was performed in September, followed by Brandon Bernard on December 10.


Call for clemency


This is an extremely rare case of the execution of people who were still in their early teens when the crime was committed. Death sentences are usually given to older criminals, for whom age cannot be an excuse.


American star Kim Kardashian said, "At 18 years and a few months old, her brain had not finished developing". Like this personality, more than 500,000 people have called on Donald Trump for clemency, including important political figures like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who advocates for the abolition of the death penalty.


This request will therefore have been refused by the outgoing president. Since July, Donald Trump has indeed stepped up federal executions.


Following the execution, Todd Bagley's mother wanted to thank Trump, Attorney General William Barr and others in the Department of Justice. "Without this process," she said, reading a statement, "my family would not be able to turn the page and move forward in life. »


Present at the killing of Brandon Bernard and as he apologized to her, she added, "Apologies and remorse… have helped me a lot to heal my heart. I can say a lot: I forgive them. « 


Massive resumption of federal executions


If only 3 prisoners had been put to death by the government since 1970, Brandon Bernard is already the ninth in less than 5 months.


This Friday, Alfred Bourgeois, a 56-year-old truck driver from Louisiana, will also be executed for killing his 2-year-old daughter by repeatedly hitting her head against the windows and dashboard of a truck. Bourgeois’s lawyers claimed he was intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty, but several courts said the evidence did not support this claim. He will therefore be the tenth to be put to death in the Trump era.


Three more executions are still scheduled before Joe Biden, a fervent opponent of the sentence, becomes the 46th President of the United States of America on January 20.

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