US executes Brandon Bernard; ignores Kim Kardashian’s plea
PIC: Associated Press

The Trump administration Thursday carried out its ninth federal execution of the year in what has been a first series of executions during a presidential lame-duck period in 130 years, putting to death a Texas street-gang member in the slayings of a religious couple from Iowa more than two decades ago.

Four more federal executions, including one Friday, are planned in the weeks before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

One was carried out in late November.

The case of Brandon Bernard, who received a lethal injection of phenobarbital at a US prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, was a rare execution of a person who was in his teens when his crime was committed.

Several high-profile figures, including reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, had appealed to President Donald Trump to commute Bernard's sentence to life in prison.

With witnesses looking on from behind a glass barrier separating them from a pale-green death chamber, the 40-year-old Bernard was pronounced dead at 9:27 pm Eastern time.

He directed his last words to the family of the couple he played a role in killing, speaking with striking calm for someone who knew he was about to die.

"I'm sorry," he said, lifting his head and looking at witness-room windows.

"That's the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day."

He spoke for more than three minutes, saying he had been waiting for this chance to say he was sorry - not only to the victims' family, but also for the pain he caused his own family.

Referring to his part in the killing, he said: "I wish I could take it all back, but I can't." Bernard was 18 when he and four other teenagers abducted and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley on their way from a Sunday service in Killeen, Texas, during which Bernard doused their car with lighter fluid and set it on fire with their bodies in the back trunk.

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