Kim Kardashian fights to stop Brandon Bernard's execution for 'minor role' in 1999 murders of two youth ministers

KIM Kardashian has backed a campaign to stop the execution of a man handed the death penalty for his role in the murders of two youth ministers.

Brandon Bernard, 40, was convicted with four others over the killing of couple Todd and Stacie Bagley in Killen, Texas in 1999.

The group, all teenagers at the time, held the Bagleys at gunpoint and robbed them before shooting them, placing their bodies in the trunk of their car, and torching it.

One of Bernard's co-defendants, Christopher Vialva, thought to be the person who actually shot the couple, was executed by lethal injection on September 24 of this year.

It came after Attorney General William Barr last year announced the resumption of federal executions after a 17-year hiatus.

Campaigners say that Bernard, then 18, was not present when the Bagleys were initially kidnapped and that he didn't know of any intention to kill the pair.

Attorneys acting in his defence last week asked a judge to postpone his execution on the grounds that mitigating evidence had not been presented to the court at Bernard's trial in 2000.

If the request is not granted, Bernard's death sentence is set to be carried out on December 10.

Writing on Sunday, reality star Kardashian, who in recent years has secured the release of almost two dozens prisoners, asked her 67.7million followers to back the campaign to stop Bernard's execution.

"A terrible case has been brought to my attention and I need your help," she said.

"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. 

"My heart breaks for everyone involved.

"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."


Kardashian said that, after shooting the Bagleys, the gunman turned to Bernard and told him to light the car and help destroy the evidence.

"Brandon believed both were dead, though Stacie was not, and was fearful for his own life, so he made the terrible decision to comply," Kardashian wrote.

Following the killings, an autopsy found soot in Stacie's lungs, indicating that she died of smoke inhalation, not from the gunshot wound, and was still alive when the car was torched.

Campaigners say that, at the time of his conviction, both prosecutors and jurors had an incomplete picture of Bernard and his background.

Kardashian said his attorney "fell short by not hiring any experts who could have explained to the jury… how [Bernard] had grown up in an abusive home, or how his homeless father had left him searching for protection in the streets."

"His trial attorney also failed to tell the jury how remorseful he was," she said. 

"We now know this testimony would have spared his life."

Five of the nine surviving jurors from Bernard's original trial have reportedly said they no longer believe his death sentence should be carried out.

In a recent op-ed for the Indianapolis star, one of the federal prosecutors involved in the case said the same.

Kardashian concluded her thread by suggesting that Bernard's sentence should be commuted to life in prison, and sharing a link to a petition calling for a stay of execution.

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