Kim Kardashian West flexes her prison-reform muscle, taking on death-penalty case
Kim Kardashian West is flexing her criminal justice reform muscles for perhaps the last time before President Trump leaves office, asking that the sentence of federal death-row inmate Brandon Bernard be commuted to life in prison without parole before Bernard’s Dec. 10 execution date.
Bernard was sentenced to death in 2000 for the murder of Stacie Bagley, who was killed with her husband after a carjacking and robbery in June 1999 left them locked in the trunk of their car, which was set on fire after both victims were shot.
Todd Bagley died from the gunshot, but Stacie died in the fire, which was set by Bernard. The murders took place on Ft. Hood military land in Texas, making it a federal 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,” the reality TV star and beauty mogul wrote Sunday in a series of tweets.
Kardashian West first revealed her interest in criminal-justice reform in 2018, when she and others successfully lobbied President Trump to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, who had served 22 years of a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.
Since then, she has started studying law and has stepped up on behalf of numerous other convicts. In April, she released “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project,” a documentary on Oxygen.
“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 West continued Sunday on Twitter.
The fourth man involved in the crimes, Christopher Andre Vialva, was executed Sept. 24 after being sentenced to death on three of the four charges he faced and life in prison on the other. Bernard also received life sentences on three of the four counts, which included committing or aiding and abetting carjacking and conspiracy to commit murder.
Kardashian West tweeted that Bernard wasn’t involved in the initial carjacking and was “stunned” when the Iowa youth ministers were shot. He feared for his own life, she said, when he sprayed lighter fluid into the car and set it on fire to destroy the evidence.
The 40-year-old mother of four cited a recent article written by the prosecutor who defended Bernard’s death sentence on appeal but now believes that sentence should be tossed. She also posted videos from two of the five jurors who — out of the nine jurors still alive — now regret their vote for the death sentence two decades ago. None of those people, however, doubts Bernard’s guilt.
“At trial Brandon’s attorney fell short by not hiring any experts who could have explained to the jury why Brandon decided to leave the video game store that night or how he had grown up in an abusive home, or how his homeless father had left him searching for protection in the streets,” Kardashian West tweeted.
“His trial attorney also failed to tell the jury how remorseful he was or anything about his background. We now know this testimony would have spared his life.”
Kardashian West noted that while the defendants were Black, 11 of 12 members of the original jury were white. She also corrected herself regarding Bernard’s scheduled execution date, which she had mistakenly given as Dec. 12.
We’ve come a long way since Season 1 of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” when Khloé was arrested for driving drunk and held in an L.A.
Bernard, who was convicted of the same four charges Vialva was, got the death sentence for Stacie Bagley’s killing. He was 18 at the time of the murders and, like Vialva, a gang member, according to court documents.
“After Todd Bagley agreed to give a ride to several of Bernard’s accomplices, they pointed a gun at him, forced him and Stacie into the trunk of their car, and drove the couple around for hours while attempting to steal their money and pawn Stacie’s wedding ring,” the U.S. Justice Department said in a release Oct. 16.
“While locked in the trunk, the couple spoke with their abductors about God and pleaded for their lives,” the statement continued. “The abductors eventually parked on the Fort Hood military reservation, where Bernard and another accomplice doused the car with lighter fluid as the couple, still locked in the trunk, sang and prayed. After Stacie said, ‘Jesus loves you,’ and ‘Jesus, take care of us,’ one of the accomplices shot both Todd and Stacie in the head — killing Todd and knocking Stacie unconscious. Bernard then lit the car on fire, killing Stacie through smoke inhalation.”
Kardashian West urged anyone interested in helping to visit the website helpsavebrandon.com for more information and to sign a letter to Trump asking that Bernard’s death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment without the chance of parole. Bernard’s defense team, which runs the website, has pledged to present the letters to the president.
Khloé Kardashian is defending her sister Kim Kardashian, whose private-island birthday party amid the COVID-19 pandemic was dragged on Twitter.
Kardashian West’s success in urging Trump to alter heavy sentences began with the mid-2018 pardon of Johnson, who was serving a life sentence plus 25 years for a nonviolent drug offense. Shortly after that, the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star announced she was studying to become a lawyer.
This latest campaign comes amid an eventful 2020 for Kardashian, including husband Kanye West’s presidential bid (news flash: He didn’t win) and a controversial island-getaway 40th-birthday surprise party for about two dozen family members and friends.
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