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Death row inmate who burned couple on way home from church dies from execution

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Death row inmate Brandon Bernard who was convicted over his part of the killings of a religious couple has been put to death.

Bernard was involved in the murders, which took place in 1999, and saw the Iowa couple's bodies burned in the boot of their car.

He, along with four other teenagers abducted and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley on their way from a Sunday service in Texas. They were shot in the car by accomplice Christopher Vialva before Bernard set the car alight.

Bernard, now aged 40, is the ninth federal inmate put to death since July, after Donald Trump ended a 17-year hiatus in federal executions.

The executions have broken a 130-year precedent of pausing them until the next president is sworn into office.

It was a rare execution of a person who was in his teens when the crime happened. He will be the youngest person by the age of the offence to be executed in the country for nearly seven decades.

The execution ran later than scheduled, with reports claiming his defense team were scrambling to get the ruling temporarily blocked.

They had asked a federal appeals court to temporarily block the execution while they investigate claims prosecutors unconstitutionally withheld evidence that would have seen some jurors give him a life sentence.

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Celebrities poured their support for Bernard, including Kim Kardashian West, who was reportedly crying before the news came.

She urged people on Twitter to sign petitions to stop the execution.

At around 7.40pm Indiana time (12.40am) the DC Circuit voted 5-4 to deny stay to the death row inmate.

Despite his lawyers working to stop the lethal injection until his death, the execution went ahead.

Moments before it went ahead, his attorney, Robert Owen, said in a statement: "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.

"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.

"Brandon made one terrible mistake at age 18. But he did not kill anyone, and he never stopped feeling shame and profound remorse for his actions in the crime that took the lives of Todd and Stacie Bagley.

"And he spent the rest of his life sincerely trying to show, as he put it, that he 'was not that person'."

Bernard died by lethal injection at an Indiana federal prison at 9.27pm (2.27am).

  • Donald Trump
  • Crime

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