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Supreme Court denies last minute attempt to save Brandon Bernard from execution ordered by Trump

Trump has broken a 130-year-old US presidential tradition by refusing to pause federal executions amid the presidential transition.

Five executions are scheduled to take place before the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden on 20 January. The Trump administration’s accelerated interest in executions has been criticised by Robert Dunham, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Centre, as being “unprecedented in modern American presidential history.”

The death penalty was re-established by the US Supreme Court in 1988, yet only three federal executions occurred in the period prior to the Trump administration. Now, if the five executions take place, Trump will have established his administration as one of the deadliest in the history of capital punishment – with 13 executions carried out since July 2020.

US federal prison
Photo: Santa Maria Times

Concerns have been raised about moving forward with the executions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – with the Bureau of Prisons having a spike in virus cases across the country – especially considering that the Justice Department revealed that members of the execution team had tested positive for COVID-19.

Particular interest has been taken by the public with the case of Brandon Bernard, who was 18 when he participated in the murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley in 1999. If executed, he will be the youngest offender (at the time of the offence) to be executed by the Federal Government in almost 70 years. Five of the surviving nine jurors that originally convicted Bernard have already called for the Trump administration to commute his sentence.

Celebrities, like Kim Kardashian West, have also begun to advocate for his cause. West has released numerous tweets in an effort to raise awareness in about Bernard’s case.

Meanwhile, many others have taken to Twitter to express their dismay. It comes as a last-minute appeal was brought before the Supreme Court in order to try and halt the execution.

Now, according to a page which claims to be run by Bernard’s Run defence team, the appeal has sadly been denied by SCOTUS. The only person who can now grant Bernard clemency is Donald Trump.

 

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