ROLLING STONE – IN THE FINAL moments of Brandon Bernard’s life, before he was executed by lethal injection at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Dec. 10, 2020, President Donald Trump picked up the phone to entertain a final plea for mercy on Bernard’s behalf.
The call was not with Bernard’s family or his attorneys. Nor was it with representatives from the Justice Department’s Pardon Attorney office, who had recommended just days earlier that Trump spare Bernard’s life.
Rather, the call was with Jamal Fincher Jones, better known as Polow da Don, a music producer responsible for hits like Ludacris’ “Pimpin’ All Over the World” and Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.”
Jones didn’t know Bernard, but he had publicly endorsed Trump for reelection — and that, Bernard’s advocates had correctly suspected, gave him the best chance of getting the president’s ear.
Trump took the call, but unfortunately for Bernard, it was too late. The president had days earlier spoken with the family of the victims in Bernard’s case — a young couple who’d been kidnapped and killed — and promised them the execution would go forward. “I’m sorry,” he told Jones. “I can’t do it.”
Bernard was already in the execution chamber while Trump and Jones were talking. Earlier that evening, the Supreme Court had rejected his lawyers’ petition to delay the execution, and Trump’s refusal to intervene sealed his fate.
Granted a final phone call, Bernard spoke with the attorneys and investigators who’d taken on his case and become his friends, telling them repeatedly that he loved them, before the line went dead. Shortly after 9 p.m. Eastern time, he was injected with Pentobarbital, a drug that cripples the central nervous system, shutting down the lungs and heart.
“As the drug started taking its effect, he’s looking in our direction, as if he just wanted somebody to help him,” says Chuck Formosa, a defense investigator who’d grown close with Bernard after joining his cause in 2008 and attended the execution.
“It was the most fucked-up thing I’ve ever seen, watching them kill my friend.”
By 9:27 p.m. Bernard was dead … READ MORE.
Murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley
Minor details of Brandon Bernard’s life that ROLLING STONE failed to mention … reader descretion advised | HEADLINE HEALTH
On the afternoon of June 21, 1999, Brandon Bernard, 18; Christopher Andre Vialva, 19; Terry Terrell Brown, 15; Christopher Michael Lewis, 15; and Tony Sparks, 16, approached Todd and Stacie Bagley, two youth pastors, and asked them for a ride at a gas station with plans to rob them.
Once the Bagleys agreed to give them a ride, Vialva held the couple at gunpoint and forced them into the trunk.
While in the trunk for several hours driving around, the Bagleys spoke through an opening in the back seat and urged their abductors to accept Jesus into their hearts and spare their lives.
The perpetrators then robbed the Bagleys by using their ATM card to withdraw cash, stealing money, stealing jewelry, and seeking to pawn Stacie’s wedding ring.
Soon after, the teens pulled to the side of the road at Belton Lake recreation area and poured lighter fluid inside the vehicle while the Bagleys sang “Jesus Loves Us“. Vialva then shot both of the Bagleys in the head, killing Todd instantly. Bernard then set the car on fire.
The exact cause of Stacie’s death is disputed. An autopsy commissioned by the prosecution at Bernard’s trial claimed Stacie died of smoke inhalation as a result of the fire Bernard started.
However, the chief medical examiner of Galveston County Stephen Pustilnik came to the conclusion that Stacie was “medically dead” from the gunshot wound to the head before Bernard started the fire. SOURCE.