Attorneys representing former Killeen man Brandon Bernard have secured a virtual hearing with a U.S. District Judge in Waco in an attempt to halt his execution, scheduled for next week.
Bernard, who is set to be executed Dec. 10 at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, for a crime that left a couple dead on Fort Hood property in 1999, is being represented by the Law Office of Robert C. Owen, L.L.C. out of Chicago, and John Carpenter, an assistant federal public defender based out of Tacoma, Washington.
The attorneys for Bernard issued a news release Tuesday that a hearing was scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Alan D. Albright in Waco.
On June 21, 1999, Todd and Stacie Bagley were killed after being carjacked by Bernard, Christopher Vialva and three other teens.
Police said at the time that the Bagleys were youth pastors visiting Killeen for a church revival at a Killeen church.
After carjacking the Bagleys, Christopher Vialva, Bernard and three teenagers put the couple in the trunk of the car and drove for several hours, withdrawing money from ATMs and attempting to pawn Stacie Bagley’s wedding band.
At a remote training area at Fort Hood, police said Vialva shot Todd Bagley in the head and Stacie Bagley in the face.
Bernard set the car on fire, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Todd Bagley died instantly, and Stacie Bagley died of smoke inhalation after the vehicle was set ablaze, police said at the time.
Vialva was executed Sept. 24 in Terre Haute for his role in the crime.
The purpose of Wednesday’s hearing is to “address whether the federal government violated the law by scheduling Brandon Bernard’s execution while his legal claims relating to hidden evidence were pending,” the release said.
Prosecutors withheld “critically important evidence” during the trial in 2000, Bernard’s lawyers said Tuesday.
Evidence the attorneys say prosecutors withheld included that Bernard was at the bottom rung of the youth gang that committed the crime. The attorneys said that made him less of a threat of future violence if his life was spared.
Since being convicted in June 2000, five jurors have opposed his death sentence, Bernard’s attorneys said in the release.
Prosecutors also withheld evidence that “Mr. Bernard was absent when most of the crime events took place, and that at least two equally culpable participants were to receive more lenient sentences (both are now out of custody),” the release said.
Bernard and his legal team filed an appeal after discovering the prosecutors withheld that information, and his claims were still pending when the government ordered his execution, his attorneys said.
“Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 3596(a), prohibits the setting of an execution when a prisoner’s appeals remain pending in the courts,” the release said.
Bernard’s execution notice has gained national attention, including articles being published in The New Yorker, People Magazine and CNN.com.
Celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian West, have publicly asked for a stay of execution in the case.
“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,” Kardashian West tweeted Sunday.
Today’s public hearing can be viewed online at: https://txwd-uscourts.zoomgov.com/j/1601902244?pwd=Q202TUVhTU15eUZzNmM5OXlXNVlPQT09