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Democrats Mourn Executed Man Who Set Two Youth Ministers On Fire

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A host of Democratic politicians said the execution of a man convicted of burning two youth ministers in 1999 was an injustice in Friday social media posts.

Brandon Bernard, 40, was killed by lethal injection following a two-decade-old conviction where he lit a vehicle on fire after an accomplice robbed, shot, and dumped two youth ministers in a trunk, according to CBS News. Bernard, who became the ninth federal inmate to be executed in 2020, was the subject of pleas to commute his sentence from numerous celebrities and advocates, CBS reported.

“This is absolutely sickening,” Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. “Brandon Bernard should still be alive. Abolish the death penalty.”

“Brandon Bernard should be alive today,” Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote. “We must end all federal executions and abolish the death penalty. In a world of incredible violence, the state should not be involved in premeditated murder.”

“Let’s call this what it is: state-sanctioned murder,” Democratic Missouri Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush tweeted. “I’m thinking of Brandon Bernard and his family—the system failed them. We cannot allow this to continue. The Biden-Harris administration should commute the sentence of every single person on federal death row.” 

Bernard’s legal team raised a concern that both the youth ministers, Todd and Stacie Bagley, were dead by the time he lit the car ablaze, and five out of the nine jurors who originally sentenced him to death said they would have decided life in prison had the information been available at trial, according to CBS. The 40-year-old’s attorneys made a last-minute plea to the Supreme Court on Thursday ahead of his execution, but their motion was denied, CBS reported.

“Without this process, my family and I would not have the closure needed to move on in life,” Tod Bagley’s mother said, according to CBS. “It has been very difficult to wait 21 years for the sentence that was imposed by the Judge and Jury on those who cruelly participated in the destruction of our children, to be finally completed.”

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