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World News

Man who killed Christian couple put to death as part of Trump administration's unprecedented series of post-election executions

by Chantalle Edmunds

The Trump administration is continuing its unprecedented programme of post-election federal executions including the execution of Brandon Bernard who murdered two Christian youth ministers in Texas in 1999.

Bernard was put to death on Thursday for his part in the killing of Todd and Stacie Bagley, a Christian couple from Iowa after he and other teenage members of a gang abducted and robbed the couple.

After Todd Bagley agreed to give a ride to several of Bernard’s accomplices, they pointed a gun at him before forcing Todd and Stacie into the trunk of their car. They drove around for hours attempting to steal their money and pawn Stacie’s wedding ring.  

While locked in the trunk, the couple spoke with their abductors about God and pleaded for their lives, as reported by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Bernard and another accomplice eventually parked on the Fort Hood military reservation and doused the car with lighter fluid as the couple "sang and prayed" from the trunk.

According to the US Department of Justice, Stacie reportedly said: "Jesus loves you, and Jesus, take care of us."

Shortly afterwards one of the accomplices shot Todd and Stacie in the head. Todd was killed and Stacie was knocked unconscious. 

Bernard lit the car on fire, killing Stacie through smoke inhalation.

Bernard, who was 18 at the time of the killings, 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, appealed to Mr Trump to commute Bernard's sentence to life in prison, citing, among other things, Bernard's youth at the time and the remorse he has expressed over years.

One of his accomplices, Christopher Vialva, was executed for his role in the Bagleys’ murder on September 22, 2020.

On Friday evening Alfred Bourgeois, 56, was put to death after receiving a lethal injection at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

His lawyers argued Bourgeois had an IQ that put him in the intellectually disabled category, saying that should have made him ineligible for the death penalty under federal law.

Victor J Abreu, said it was "shameful" to execute his client "without fair consideration of his intellectual disability".

In his last words, Bourgeois - found to have killed his daughter by slamming her head against a truck's windows and dashboard - offered no apology and instead struck a deeply defiant tone, insisting he neither killed nor sexually abused the girl.

"I ask God to forgive all those who plotted and schemed against me, and planted false evidence," he said, adding: "I did not commit this crime."

Bourgeois was the 10th federal death-row inmate put to death since federal executions resumed under President Donald Trump in July after a 17-year hiatus. He was the second federal prisoner executed this week, with three more executions planned in January.

Additional reporting by PA.

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