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The administration of United States President Donald Trump executed one of the inmates named Brandon Bernard on Thursday (12/10/2020). The 40-year-old man was sentenced to death at 9:27 p.m. He was convicted of being an accomplice to a crime when he was 18.
The Trump administration continues to carry out these sentences even though five of the Nine jurors opposed it. The Supreme Court also rejected a last-minute execution delay for him. But leading U.S. judges like Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor disagreed.
“Today, the court allowed the Federal Government to execute Brandon Bernard. Despite bernard’s disturbing allegations, the government should have withheld his death sentence and seen evidence of false testimony against him.” Write Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent, reported from HuffPost, Friday (11/12/2020).
“Bernard never had a chance to test the allegations against him in court.”
The autopsy report from the inmate who executed him with the lethal injection suggests that the drug used to punish Brandon Bernard may have caused him to feel like he was suffocating.
“Tonight, we who love Brandon Bernard, are filled with deep anger and sadness over the federal government’s actions in taking his life.” Robert Owen, Bernard’s lawyer for the past 20 years, said in a statement.
“Brandon made one big mistake at the age of 18. But he didn’t kill anyone, and he never stopped feeling shame and deep remorse for his actions in that crime.” He continued.
Bernard’s death marks the Trump administration’s ninth execution since the practice resumed in July 2020. It was the second execution since Trump lost the election to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who said he would end the death penalty.
Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, are trying to execute four other prisoners before Joe Biden’s inauguration. Trump became the first U.S. president in 131 years to carry out a federal execution after losing re-election.
Plus, the majority of people executed during his administration were black. Bernard was a black man who was sentenced to death by a mostly white jury in 2000. He is accused of playing a role in the carjacking that ended in the murders of a couple named Todd and Stacie Bagley.
However, Bernard was not there when his friends kidnapped the Bagley family, nor was he the one who shot them dead. The perpetrator of the shooting was his friend, Christopher Viavla, who was executed last September.
Prosecutors claim Brandon Bernard was the one who set fire to the car in which the Bagley family was inside. However, the witness at the event told the court that he did not see clearly who did it.
Bernard, then 18, was not eligible for death. However, like most people sentenced to death, Bernard could not afford to hire an experienced or well-known lawyer. So, he is only represented by a court-appointed attorney with no federal death penalty experience.