Federal government executes Brandon Bernard despite last-minute appeals
The U.S. government executed Brandon Bernard by lethal injection Thursday, despite nationwide outcry and last-minute appeals to have his execution halted.
Bernard received an injection of phenobarbital inside a chamber in a U.S. prison in Terre Haute, Ind., according to The Associated Press.
Bernard, 40, was a teenager when when he was convicted in a 1999 double murder in Texas, according to NBC News.
His case drew renewed interest in recent days with many on social media and some lawmakers arguing that the death penalty was too harsh a punishment for Bernard, who was 19 when he was sentenced to be executed.
“Tonight, those of us who love Brandon Bernard — and we are many — are full of righteous anger and deep sadness at the actions of the federal government in taking his life,” said Robert C. Owen, Bernard’s attorney.
“Brandon’s life mattered. To us, his legal team; to his two beautiful and talented daughters; to his mother, brother, and sister; and to the countless people around the country who came to know him and his story in recent weeks,”
Bernard’s attorneys asked a federal court of appeals to halt his execution on Wednesday as they explored claims that evidence had been unconstitutionally withheld.
Five jurors who listened to his case and one prosecutor who challenged an appeal by Bernard all came forward to say that they no longer supported the death penalty.
Owen said, “Given that five jurors no longer stand by their death verdict, Brandon must not be executed until the courts have fully addressed the constitutionality of his sentence.”
The Supreme Court however, declined to stay the execution, according to NBC.
Several groups and public figures took to social media Thursday night after Bernard was executed.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for the death penalty to be abolished shortly after Bernard’s death.
Yes. We must abolish the death penalty— period.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 11, 2020
“Our government killed Brandon Bernard tonight,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on Twitter.
“Brandon mattered. The death penalty only perpetuates a cycle of trauma. We have to end it once and for all.
Our government killed Brandon Bernard tonight.
Brandon mattered. The death penalty only perpetuates a cycle of trauma. We have to end it once and for all.
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 11, 2020
Kim Kardashian West, who has previously asked President Trump to stop Bernard’s execution expressed her her thoughts following his death.
“I’m so messed up right now,” she said.
“They killed Brandon. He was such a reformed person. So hopeful and positive until the end. More importantly he is sorry, so sorry for the hurt and pain he has caused others.”
I’m so messed up right now.
They killed Brandon.
He was such a reformed person. So hopeful and positive until the end. More importantly he is sorry, so sorry for the hurt and pain he has caused others.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 11, 2020
The outlet noted that many states have held off on executions in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but the federal government does not appear to have been dissuaded. Bernard was the ninth person to die by federal execution this year.
The Department of Justice resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus. There are four other executions scheduled to take place before President-elect Joe Biden assumes office on Jan. 20, including the first woman to be executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years, Lisa Montgomery.
Alfred Bourgeois, 56, is scheduled to be executed on Friday for killing his 2-year-old daughter in 2002 while at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station.
Updated 11:03 p.m.