Donald Trump's administration executed 13 federal inmates in his last six months in office -- a stunning increase over three executions in 60 years.
Brandon Bernard, who took part in the 1999 carjacking and murder of youth ministers Todd and Stacie Bagley, was the ninth prisoner put to death in the execution spree after a last-minute plea for clemency from rap producer Jamal Fincher Jones to Trump came too late, just as the 40-year-old man was taken to the execution chamber, reported Rolling Stone.
“As the drug started taking its effect, he’s looking in our direction, as if he just wanted somebody to help him,” said Chuck Formosa, a defense investigator became close to Bernard after working to spare his life. “It was the most f*cked-up thing I’ve ever seen, watching them kill my friend.”
Six of the 13 executions came after Trump lost the 2020 election as his Justice Department accelerated the schedule ahead of the incoming Joe Biden administration, which halted federal executions, but the former president has already promised to resume -- and increase -- executions in he wins back his old office.
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“We’re going to be asking [for] everyone who sells drugs, gets caught selling drugs to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts,” Trump said in his November campaign announcement. “Because it is the only way.”
Trump has long been a public champion of the death penalty, going back to the full-page ad he took out in the New York Daily News calling for the executions of the "Central Park Five," who were later exonerated by DNA evidence, and making what he called a "strong" case to carry out more executions when he first jumped into the 2016 campaign.
His attorney general William Barr devoted an entire chapter, “Bringing Justice to Violent Predators," of his Trump administration memoir to federal executions spree, which he had resumed in 2019, after his predecessor Jeff Sessions lifted the unofficial moratorium on federal executions in 2018 by urging federal prosecutors to use existing death-penalty laws against drug traffickers.