Dec. 2 (UPI) — A federal decide in Texas denied a keep of execution Wednesday for a person convicted of killing a married couple twenty years in the past.
Brandon Bernard, 40, is scheduled to be executed Dec. 10 on the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Ind. He is one in all a number of loss of life row inmates to be scheduled for deadly injection this 12 months after the U.S. Justice Division resumed federal executions this summer time.
U.S. District Choose Alan Albright of the Western District of Texas dominated Wednesday that he did not have jurisdiction over Bernard’s case and so denied a request for a keep.
Bernard’s attorneys requested the keep final month after saying they’ve found proof displaying their shopper had a lesser position within the crime and the gang that perpetrated the killings.
“Brandon Bernard has been looking for reduction since we found in 2018 that the trial prosecutors withheld crucial proof, but procedural boundaries have prevented him from acquiring a listening to on the deserves of his declare,” Robert Owen mentioned.
“We are going to proceed to make our case in court docket that this hidden proof would have modified the end result of Brandon’s sentencing. On condition that 5 jurors now not stand by their loss of life verdict, Brandon should not be executed till the courts have totally addressed the constitutionality of his sentence, and we are going to proceed to vigorously pursue that vitally necessary aim.”
Protection attorneys accused the federal government of withholding proof displaying that Bernard was “on the very periphery of the youth gang” that killed the Texas couple. They mentioned they discovered the proof whereas reviewing court docket paperwork for the re-sentencing of one in all Bernard’s co-defendants, displaying the knowledge was within the authorities’s possession.
Along with the keep, Bernard’s attorneys requested for a listening to on the brand new proof.
Bernard, together with an confederate, Christopher Vialva, had been sentenced to loss of life in 2000 for the 1999 deaths of Todd Bagley and Stacie Bagley, married youth ministers.
Prosecutors mentioned the Bagleys gave Vialva and two different accomplices within the case a trip of their automobile, however the males held the couple at gunpoint and put them within the trunk of the automobile. They stole the couple’s cash and a marriage ring.
Bernard’s attorneys mentioned he was not with the three accomplices after they kidnapped the Bagleys and was known as to hitch the opposite perpetrators later in his personal automobile.
The 4 males then drove the Bagleys and the 2 automobiles to Fort Hood Military base, the place prosecutors mentioned Vialva shot each victims within the head, immediately killing Todd Bagley. They then set the automobile on fireplace.
Stacie Bagley, unconscious from a gunshot wound, died of smoke inhalation, federal prosecutors mentioned.
Protection attorneys mentioned Bernard believed he was known as to assist eliminate the Bagley’s automobiles and allow them to go free. Police arrested the 4 males after their automobile slid off the highway right into a ditch close to the Bagleys’ burning automobile.
As a result of the murders passed off on a army reservation, they had been thought-about federal offenses.
Vialva was executed for his position in September.
In November, dozens of individuals — together with jurors from Bernard’s trial — signed a clemency petition asking President Donald Trump to commute his loss of life sentence. The petition requested Trump to think about Bernard’s age on the time of the crime — 18 — his clear jail report, his regret and outreach work whereas incarcerated. They requested for his loss of life sentence to be commuted to life in jail.
Jury foreman Calvin Kruger mentioned that whereas the trial proof confirmed that Bernard is “responsible past any doubt” of the murders, “it additionally clearly confirmed that Brandon Bernard was not the ringleader behind these offenses, however a follower.”
He additionally mentioned he did not imagine Bernard’s legal professional “did job in defending him.”
“To me, it appeared like his attorneys had been going by means of the motions and nothing extra.”
Two different jurors agreed with Kruger’s evaluation of the trial legal professional.
Mark Bezy, a former federal Bureau of Prisons warden, mentioned he helps clemency due to Bernard’s report of excellent conduct. He mentioned that “ought to Bernard’s loss of life sentence be commuted, the may and would operate exceptionally nicely in a less-restrictive setting with out posing any danger to institutional safety and good order, or posing any danger to the security and safety of employees, inmates or others.”
U.S. Lawyer Basic William Barr resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus. Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Purkey and Dustin Honken had been executed in July; Lezmond Mitchell and Keith Dwayne Nelson in August; William LeCroy and Vialva in September; and Orlando Corridor in November.