The purported ringleader of the crime, Mr. Vialva, then 19, insisted that the young men needed to kill the Bagleys. After Mr. Bernard and another accomplice bought lighter fluid, four of the young men, driving in two cars, took the victims to a remote spot on the Fort Hood military reservation.
Mr. Bernard and Terry Brown, then 17, poured lighter fluid on the car’s interior, and Mr. Vialva shot the victims with Mr. Bernard’s gun, killing Mr. Bagley and leaving Ms. Bagley unconscious, the Justice Department said. Mr. Bernard set flame to the car.
Though the government executed Mr. Bernard and Mr. Vialva, Mr. Brown and another man involved in the crimes have been released from federal prison, and another accomplice is projected for release in 2030, according to a Bureau of Prisons database. Each of those three, ages 15 to 17 at the time of the crime, were ineligible for capital punishment under the Federal Death Penalty Act.
The Supreme Court later ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional for those under 18 at the time of their offense. Mr. Bernard’s supporters argued that the court failed to consider his youthfulness. Critics of the death penalty have said setting 18 as the age at which a defendant can be sentenced to death is arbitrary.
In a statement, two lawyers for Mr. Bernard maintained that their client did not kill anyone, and several jurors said they no longer stood by the initial verdict, along with an appellate prosecutor in his case who joined the call for his clemency.
“Brandon’s life mattered,” they said, describing his execution as “a stain on America’s criminal justice system.”
Despite claims from his defense that the government suppressed evidence that would have altered the calculus of Mr. Bernard’s sentence, courts rejected his pleas for a stay of execution. His lawyers criticized the government’s case and pointed to testimony that suggested Mr. Bernard held the lowest level of authority in the gang with which the government claimed he and other accomplices were affiliated.