Kim Kardashian says she's 'so messed up' after execution of Brandon Bernard: 'This just has to change'

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·7 min read

Kim Kardashian is reacting to the execution of Brandon Bernard.

The reality TV star, who’s been working on prison reform during her legal internship, declared herself “so messed up” after Bernard’s last-minute appeals were denied and he was put to death by lethal injection on Thursday at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Bernard, 40, had been convicted for his role in a 1999 double murder-robbery that occurred when he was 18. He was the youngest person in the United States to receive a death sentence in nearly 70 years for a crime committed when he was an adolescent.

Kardashian, who had been using her social media platform to spotlight his case as his lawyers called for Bernard not to be released but spared from the death penalty, wrote, “I’m so messed up right now. They killed Brandon. He was such a reformed person. So hopeful and positive until the end. More importantly he is sorry, so sorry for the hurt and pain he has caused others.”

She recounted how his attorney called her as Bernard was put “in the chair” to say he thanked her and to report that “he doesn’t feel too claustrophobic in the chair,” which she reacted to with a broken heart emoji.

The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star went on to share a message from Bernard, who thought he would have the chance to share the message himself. He said what “he learned in his life was to not hang out with the wrong crowd.... It got him caught up and he made poor choices.”

Kim Kardashian, pictured in January, decided in 2018 to study law, taking a legal apprenticeship with a San Francisco law firm. The reality star is working to take the California State Bar Exam in 2022, and has been focusing on prison reform. (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian, pictured in January, decided in 2018 to study law, taking a legal apprenticeship with a San Francisco law firm. The reality star is working to take the California State Bar Exam in 2022, and has been focusing on prison reform. (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

However, the public support he received was “validation” to his family, saying, “His family knew him inside and knew he wasn’t his mistake he made as a teenager but he was sad his family felt shame. With the public support, he felt the shame could go away and it validated him to his family that the world also knew he was better than his teenage self.”

She also shared that when they spoke, it was about music (he had “gotten into classical music lately to soothe his soul”) and how he liked to crochet (he “would laugh that if someone just saw his cell they would think it was a grandma’s cell”).

She ended by saying, “I could go on and on about what an amazing person Brandon was. I do know he left this earth feeling supported and loved and at peace. This just has to change: our system is so f**ked up.”

Here is her thread:

Kardashian has been sharing Bernard’s story for several weeks now, and called on President Trump to grant him a commutation “and allow him to live out his sentence in prison” instead of being put to death.

She outlined reasons why, including that Bernard was only 18, not the shooter, and that the prosecutor and several jurors support clemency. She also said he was productive in prison and gave back.

Bernard was given the death penalty for the 1999 killings of ministers Todd and Stacie Bagley in Killeen, Texas. While his guilt was not in question, supporters called for life imprisonment as a more fair punishment.

According to the Washington Post’s Editorial Board, “The death penalty (which we have long opposed) is supposed to be reserved for the ‘worst of the worst.’ Mr. Bernard, now 40, was only 18 years old when the crimes,... That would make Mr. Bernard the youngest person in nearly 70 years to be executed by the United States for a crime committed when he was a teenager. Other points to consider: Mr. Bernard did not play a leading role in the crimes (another teen shot the couple in the head, and Mr. Bernard lit the car on fire); his trial attorney made no opening statement, and no witnesses were called at the penalty stage; Mr. Bernard is Black and faced a nearly all-white jury.”

According to the Killeen Herald, the Bagleys were carjacked by Christopher Vialva, Bernard and three other teenagers, who put “the couple in the trunk of their car and drove for several hours, withdrawing money from ATMs and attempting to pawn Stacie Bagley’s wedding band.”

Vialva shot Todd in the head and Stacie in the face, and Bernard allegedly set the vehicle on fire with gasoline. Todd died instantly, and Stacie died of smoke inhalation after the vehicle was set ablaze.

Vialva was executed in September.

According to the Washington Post article, the Justice Department has gone on a “spree of executions,” with eight people being put to death in less than five months, and five more — which included Bernard — “planned before the end of President Trump’s administration.”

Kardashian wasn’t the only celebrity who reacted to the news of Bernard’s execution. as Alyssa Milano tweeted, “Abolish the death penalty.”

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