Nine hours. Just think back to nine hours ago – what were you doing? In that time, it is likely that you’ve made several decisions, whether it is what to eat, where to walk, or what job is next to do at work.
Either way, nine hours is a long time. Sometimes we do things in the heat of the moment – things that we later regret. But if you start doing something wrong, nine hours is a lot of time to change your mind.
And crucially, nine hours is how long a poor young Christian couple were harrowingly tortured by five thugs, before being murdered. Yet fast-forward over 20 years, and one of these men was being treated like a martyr.
We are talking about the case of Brandon Bernard – who in December 2020 was executed for his part of a barbaric crime in 1999. This happened despite a widespread campaign to spare Bernard, but thankfully, President Trump didn’t cower, and proceeded with the execution.
In this article, we take a look at the overall case, and show why Brandon Bernard deserved to be executed for his heinous crime. Justice was finally served.
Bernard was born in 1980, and grew up in Texas. He seemed to struggle through his teenage years – which was marred by various crimes, juvenile sentences and gang-like activities that brought misery to so many people.
Yet Bernard had a largely stable upbringing. His mother was an Army nurse, and he originally attended a Seventh-Day Adventist Academy – a religious school known for instilling strong, Christian values into its pupils.
Yet Bernard seemed to fall into a life of crime after a cousin of his moved in with the family. They engaged in immature activities, thefts, and general antisocial behaviour. Bernard was eventually unable to join the United States Army because of his youthful convictions.
While most people would use this as motivation to become a better person – make up for past indiscressions, Bernard went the opposite way. He started a life of crime. Instead of Bernard paying the price for his youthful stupidity, tragically, it was a young couple that would pay the ultimate price.
The Murder of Todd and Stacie Bagley
Todd and Stacie Bagley were a young couple with everything to live for. Happily married, at the time of their tragic deaths, Todd was 26, and Stacie 28. The duo were happily in love, and were serving as youth ministers in their local Iowa church at the time of their deaths.
On the fateful afternoon of June 21, 1999, The Bagley’s were out enjoying their day. Bernard, and a group of four other reprobates, approached the Bagley’s and asked them for a ride to a nearby petrol station. As the loving Christians that they were, the Bagley’s agreed, and started to drive them.
One member of the gang – Christopher Vialva, a 19-year old hoodlum – held the two hostage at gunpoint. He forced them to go into the boot of the car. At this point, one can only imagine the fear that the Bagley’s were in. This ordeal lasted for several hours.
The five thugs used their bank cards to fund exuberant purchases and withdraw cash, before even pawning off Stacie’s wedding ring. As if this wasn’t enough, the five thugs kept Todd and Stacie alive all of this time, which is tantamount to torture.
Surely after all that these five brutes had put Todd and Stacie through, they should have let them go. But the deprivation of the five delinquents didn’t end there. Tragically, Vialva shot both of them. Todd died instantly, and Stacie was wounded. Bernard then poured lighter fluid in the vehicle, before setting it alight. Stacie suffered a horrendous death – being burned alive.
The crime was depraved and heinous. What makes it even more disgusting is that when abducted, the Bagley’s spent the majority of the nine hours urging the five brutes to accept Jesus into their hearts – a popular evangelical saying. As they were about to die, Todd and Stacie bravely sang “Jesus Loves Me”.
The five louts were promptly arrested, and charged with murder. Their trial followed, to which Vialva and Bernard were sentenced to death, while the other three – in what many would state was a miscarriage of justice – got away with prison sentences.
Bernard became incarcerated, and had two decades worth of time to pay for his crimes. Bernard and Vialva were on death row, albeit on a federal trial – rather than a state trial – meaning that it appeared unlikely that they would be executed, with executions for those tried in federal courts having been put on hold in recent years.
The rest of the world moved on, with the gang put rightfully behind bars. The people though that couldn’t move on were the families of Todd and Stacie. Every day was a living reminder of their death. Bernard spent over two decades in prison.
In 2020, General William Barr and President Donald Trump allowed federal executions to resume, with both Vialva and Bernard receiving planned execution dates. Vialva’s execution was carried out with little to no fanfare from the media.
Then in the final few months of 2020 something near-ridiculous happened. Brandon Bernard was suddenly treated like he was a modern-day Moses, who should be pardoned, made a Saint, and probably handed the keys to the Whitehouse. It was as if the attitude was that his crime didn’t matter.
A huge range of advocates supported Bernard. Just many of the well-known names include reality star Kim Kardashian, Alan Dershowitz – arguably the greatest criminal defence lawyer in history – and various high-ranking politicians, along with many “sheep” – everyday civilians who just choose one side of the story without thinking for themselves.
Yet it seemed that none of those that advocated for Bernard to be spared the death penalty put themselves in the position of the Bagley’s family. They should have considered – what if they were my parents? Or my son and daughter? Then would they feel the same way? There is an alarming lack of empathy in society these days.
Motions were filed which suggested that the judge in the original trial did not adequately brief the jurors that Bernard was a lower-level gang member. It was reported that five of the nine living jurors who voted to convict Bernard advocated for his sentence to be altered to life in prison.
One of the most common defences of those supporting Bernard is his offending age. You hear many say “oh when I was 18 I did” so and so. Yes, we’ve all done silly things that we later regretted, but there’s a difference between drinking too much at a party, and the torture and murder of a young couple.
Then there is the argument revolving around peer pressure. No, peer pressure is something that a 14/15 year old falls to, not an 18-year old man. No one forced Bernard to set fire to the car, and murder Stacie. He could have stepped in at any point to tell the others to stop. A 10-year old would know the difference between right and wrong in that instance.
Bernard did, for all intents and purposes, seem a reformed character. He turned to religion, was seemingly well-behaved, and seemed an erudite individual. But does that absolve him of his crime? No.
Other protestors stated that Bernard’s death doesn’t change anything. In some ways they are correct – the crime still happened, and nothing can be done that would bring the Bagley’s back. But what it can do, is send a message out to all American citizens that those who murder will be treated accordingly. After all, this isn’t the United Kingdom – where murderers get given six years, leave Prison in three years, before typically going in and out of the prison system, probably ruining the lives of others everytime they get released, as for some reason the lawmakers don’t understand that some people should be rotting in prison.
One might say, cynically or controversially for many, but surely truthfully, that if Bernard was a white man in his 40’s, that he wouldn’t have received anywhere near as much positive press coverage. But we’ll never truly know that.
Bernard is Executed
As mentioned, many called on President Trump to grant Bernard clemency. Lawyer Alan Dershowitz requested a two-week postponement to the Supreme Court, but this request was struck down. Trump didn’t cower, and the execution went ahead.
Bernard apologised to the family of the Bagley’s, before being executed by lethal injection in the State of Indiana. He was pronounced dead at 21:27pm Eastern time on December 10, 2020.
Arguably the only regret is that Bernard’s death was quick and most likely pain-free – two privileges that he and his other brutes didn’t afford to the Bagley’s.
The Bagley’s Thank President Trump
The family of the Bagley’s – the people that have suffered the most in the last two decades – are the people that matter the most in this case.
How horrible would it have been for the Bagley’s family and friends to see one of their murderers hailed as some sort of martyr? It must have been disgusting.
Crucially, the Bagley’s agreed that Bernard should be executed, and sent a message afterwards thanking President Donald Trump, as shown in the below Tweet.
Todd Bagley’s long-suffering mother Georgia appreciated the apology from Bernard, and stated that it “helped very much heal my heart”. Bravely, she stated that they forgave them. Finally though, she received justice for her son.
Just thinking back to the start of the article – probably about five minutes ago. In that time, you’ve had a chance to read our article, and probably make up your own mind. Now, assuming it took five minutes, if you were to read this article another 107 times, that is the same amount of time that Bernard and his fellow gang of degenerates had to change their mind, and realise what they were doing was wrong. But they didn’t.
Ultimately, it was the correct decision to execute Brandon Bernard. Just because you turn into a supposed model citizen, it doesn’t absolve you of a heinous and sickening crime that killed two excellent citizens. In the end, justice was served. May the Bagley’s Rest in Peace.