Kim Kardashian West says she was “crying all morning” this week after learning that Brandon Bernard would be executed.
Despite pleas for a commutation from former jurors, criminal justice advocates, and celebrities, the Justice Department executed the 40-year-old at the Federal Correctional Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Thursday for his involvement in the 1999 murder of couple Todd and Stacie Bagley, CBS News reports. He is the ninth death row inmate to be put to death this year.
Prior to his execution, Kardashian West tweeted Thursday afternoon that she had just spoken to Bernard “for what will likely be the last time.”
“Hardest call I’ve ever had,” she explained. “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.”
“As he was in the chair his attorney called me and they just had their last call and said this… Brandon said he loves you and wants to say thank you again,” she added. “He said he doesn’t feel too claustrophobic in the chair.”
Just spoke to Brandon for what will likely be the last time. 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 a few hours later Kardashian West updated fans with the tragic news that “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,” the 40-year-old reality star wrote in a series of tweets. “The most important thing to him that he said was a gift to his mom, sister, daughters and family was the validation the public support gave to his family. His family knew him inside and knew he wasn’t his mistake he made as a teenager but he was sad his family felt shame.”
“With the public support he felt the shame could go away and it validated him to his family that the world also knew he was better than his teenage self,” she continued. “We would talk about music a lot and how he’s gotten into classical music lately to soothe his soul. He’s a master at crochet and would laugh that if someone just saw his cell they would think it was a grandmas cell.”
Kardashian West then explained that she could “go on and on about what an amazing person Brandon was.”
“I do know he left this earth feeling supported and loved and at peace,” she said. “This just has to change: our system is so f**ked up.”
According to CBS News, Bernard’s defense team made a last-minute attempt to halt the execution by requesting an emergency stay of execution from the Supreme Court. The court denied that stay on Thursday night, the outlet reports, adding that in a statement issued before Bernard’s death, his attorney called his execution “a stain on America’s criminal justice system.”
In 1999, when Bernard was just 18 years old, he and his co-conspirators robbed and abducted two youth ministers named Todd and Stacie Bagley on a Texas military reservation, CBS News reports. According to the outlet, the couple was locked in the trunk of their car, when Bernard’s accomplice, Christopher Vialva, shot both victims in the head, with Bernard then setting fire to the trunk.
CBS News reports that prosecutors told the jury that Stacie died because of the fire that Bernard started, and for that reason, they asked jurors to give the death penalty — but after the trial, an independent medical examiner hired by the defense determined that Stacie was “medically dead” before the fire. The outlet adds that Bernard’s legal team alleged in the Emergency Motion for Stay of Execution that the government withheld evidence that could have influenced the jury into sentencing Bernard to life in prison instead.
Before Bernard was executed on Thursday, West also tweeted out five reasons why he should not be put to death.
“1. He was 18 at the time. 2. He was not the shooter,” she argued. “3. The prosecutor and five of the jurors now support clemency. 4. He’s spent decades in prison without a write-up, helping at-risk youth. 5. There’s bipartisan support for his commutation.”
Read the full CBS News story regarding Bernard’s execution here.
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