- In her latest fight for criminal justice reform, Kim Kardashian West is urging President Donald Trump to halt an upcoming government execution.
- Kardashian West has advocated for 40-year-old Brandon Bernard’s death sentence to be commuted to life in prison.
- Bernard was convicted for his involvement in the murders of two youth ministers in Texas when he was 18 years old.
- His federal execution is scheduled for Thursday.
- The Trump administration relaunched the federal death penalty in July and has carried out eight executions so far, following a 17-year suspension of the punishment.
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Kim Kardashian West is urging President Donald Trump to halt an upcoming government execution in her latest fight for criminal justice reform.
The reality TV star and beauty mogul has been publicly advocating for Brandon Bernard, a federal inmate, to be removed from death row and commuted to life in prison.
Bernard was convicted two decades ago for his involvement in the 1999 murders of two youth ministers, Todd and Stacie Bagley, in Texas, when he was 18 years old. Now, aged 40, Bernard is awaiting his execution scheduled on Thursday. He’s currently held in federal custody at the US Penitentiary in Terre Haute.
“Having gotten to know Brandon, I am heartbroken about this execution,” Kardashian West tweeted on Wednesday. “I’m calling on @realDonaldTrump to grant Brandon a commutation and allow him to live out his sentence in prison.”
The request comes a week after Kardashian West tweeted out a petition with the hashtag #HelpSaveBrandon to bring attention to the case and raise support toward granting clemency to Bernard.
Brandon Bernard, a 40-year-old father is going to be executed tomorrow by our federal government. Having gotten to know Brandon, I am heartbroken about this execution. I’m calling on @realDonaldTrump to grant Brandon a commutation and allow him to live out his sentence in prison. https://t.co/soccUQFmac
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 9, 2020
“First, I want to say that a terrible crime was committed and me fighting for a stay of execution does not take away from the sympathy I have for the victim’s Todd and Stacie Bagley, and their families,” Kardashian West said in a tweet.
“While Brandon did participate in this crime, his role was minor compared to that of the other teens involved, two of whom are home from prison now,” she added. “Instead of being executed, Brandon could live out his sentence in prison.”
The White House did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The Trump administration relaunched the federal death penalty in July, following a 17-year suspension of the punishment. So far, the Justice Department has carried out eight executions, including 40-year-old Christopher Vialva, who also took part in the crime as a teenager and was responsible for carjacking the two victims and shooting them. Despite pleas for clemency, he was executed in September.
Bernard’s role in the murder involved setting the Bagleys’ car on fire, an instruction from Vialva, according to court documents reported by The Daily Beast. The Justice Department has said that one of the victims was killed by smoke inhalation.
Bernard’s lawyers argue that during his trial, prosecutors withheld testimony about his low-level position in a local gang, The Daily Best reported. Yet a federal judge in Indiana on Tuesday dismissed their challenge to stop the execution from taking place, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Kardashian West, who is studying to become a lawyer, has previously worked with Trump on issues related to criminal justice and prison reform. In 2018, she helped push the president to release Alice Marie Johnson from prison after serving more than 20 years over a non-violent drug offence.
Kardashian West’s online petition for Bernard has already attracted 80,000 signatures, according to one of Bernard’s attorneys, the Star reported.
Bernard “has now been on death row for 20+ years with zero disciplinary write ups,” Kardashian West tweeted. “He uses his time to reach out to at-risk youth, advising them to not stray from the Lord’s path (or not follow in his teenage footsteps).”
Attorney General William Barr, who has overseen the federal executions, recently justified his stance on resuming the death penalty, signalling it’s unlikely the administration will reconsider Bernard’s case.
“I think the way to stop the death penalty is to repeal the death penalty,” Barr told the Associated Press. “But if you ask juries to impose and juries impose it, then it should be carried out.”
The Attorney General’s office said in a statement that Bernard is set to be executed by lethal injection.
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