Brandon Bernard who was on Thursday executed by lethal injection at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, was reported to have apologised to victims’ family before his execution.
Bradon Bernard who was a 40-year-old inmate was sentenced to death for the slaying of a religious couple from Iowa more than two decades ago. He was just 18 years old at the time of the crime and was put to death on December 10 after spending 20 years on death row.
Brandon Bernard with witnesses looking on from behind a glass barrier separating them from a pale-green death chamber, was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m. Eastern time.
He directed his last words to the family of the couple he played a role in killing, speaking with striking calm for someone who knew he was about to die.
“I’m sorry,” he said, lifting his head and looking at witness-room windows. “That’s the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day.”
As he spoke, he showed no outward signs of fear or distress, speaking lucidly and naturally. He spoke for more than three minutes, saying he had been waiting for this chance to say he was sorry – not only to the victims’ family, but also for the pain he caused his own family.
Referring to his part in the killing, he said: “I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t.”
Bernard was 18 when he and four other teenagers abducted and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley on their way from a Sunday service in Killeen, Texas, during which Bernard doused their car with lighter fluid and set it on fire with their bodies in the back trunk.
Federal executions were resumed by Trump in July after a 17-year hiatus despite coronavirus outbreak in U.S. prisons.
Todd Bagley’s mother, Georgia, spoke to reporters within 30 minutes of the execution, saying she wanted to thank Trump, Attorney General William Barr and others at the Justice Department.
“Without this process,” she said, reading from a statement, “my family would not have the closure needed to move on in life.” She called the killings a “senseless act of unnecessary evil.”
But she stopped reading from the prepared text and became emotional when she spoke about the apologies from Bernard before he died Friday and from an accomplice, Christopher Vialva, the ringleader of the group who shot the Bagley’s in the head before the car was burned. He was executed in September.
“The apology and remorse … helped very much heal my heart,” she said, beginning to cry and then recomposing herself. “I can very much say: I forgive them.”
Earlier inside the death chamber, Bernard lay on a cross-shaped gurney with IV lines running into both arms. He looked back when a U.S. marshal picked up a phone and asked if there were any reasons not to proceed. Bernard reacted calmly as the marshal put down the phone and said the execution could proceed.
Bernard didn’t exhibit the labored breathing and constant twitching of others executed previously had. A minute after the lethal injection, his eyes slowly closed and he barely moved again.
About 20 minutes later, faint white blotches appeared on his skin and someone entered from a chamber door, listened to his heart, felt for a pulse, then walked out. Seconds later, an official said Bernard was dead.
Before Bernard’s execution, Kardashian West tweeted that she’d spoken to him earlier: “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.”
Just before the execution was scheduled, Bernard’s lawyers filed papers with the Supreme Court seeking to halt the execution, but the high court denied the request, clearing the way for the execution to proceed.