We got an email from Change.org today asking us to sign the petition asking Donald Trump to commute the sentence of Brandon Bernard who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana (USP Terra Haute). As we learned from a Democracy Now video on YouTube (embedded below) Mr. Bernard was just 18 years old when he was an accomplice to the murder of a white couple. He did not actually kill anyone himself, but received the death penalty just the same. Now hundreds of thousands of people online as well as jurors from his trial and the prosecutor are calling on President Trump to spare his life.
Brandon Bernard was a getaway driver during a robbery gone bad in 1999. During that robbery his partner in crime killed Todd and Stacie Bagley of Killen, Texas. His partner in crime was Christopher Vialva. Vialva was executed at USP Terre Haute on September 24 the of this year for HIS crimes (https://www.texastribune.org/2020/09/24/federal-death-penalty-christopher-vialva/). Now it appears that Vialva's crimes will lead to the death of a third person that does not deserve to die. A third person that never thought that Vialva was going to hurt anyone and just drove away with him in the vehicle after he did it. Bernard's defense team did not make opening statements and in the penalty stage they called no witnesses.
Former juror Gary McClung spoke to CBS News and some of those statements are in the Democracy Now video below. McClung said that "the death penalty is far too harsh" and that he regrets voting in favor of it back in the year 2000. McClung is one of five of nine surviving jurors that has spoken out publicly in support of sparing Bernard's life.
Former Assistant United States Attorney Angela Moore wrote an op-ed for the Indianapolis Star (https://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/2020/11/18/op-ed-brandon-bernard-execution-prosecutor-says-he-should-live/6329685002/) arguing that Bernard's life should be spared. She wrote that op-ed even though years earlier she was the one that prosecuted Bernard, convinced a jury to sentence him to death, and wrote appellate briefs defending the sentence.
Kim Kardashian West called President Trump to plead for Bernard's life (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9036123/Kim-Kardashian-pleads-Trump-stop-Brandon-Bernards-execution.html). We know that Trump does not listed to reason, but we do know that he listens to Kimye, so hopefully he still cares enough about them to spare Brandon Bernard.
We were thinking that maybe Kimye and others should try pleading with other people not to execute Bernard. People like the jail staff whose jobs it is to actually kill him. We think that people should petition USP Terre Haute Warden Tom Watson (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-watson-40aa1a103/) to order his employees not to carry out the execution. This author personally sent Warden Watson a message via LinkedIn asking him not to execute Bernard (screenshot above). We also think people should ask individual Terre Haute employee not to show up for work that day. If the prison has no staff then nobody can execute him. Perhaps a protest outside the prison capable of blocking access to it would be appropriate here. If you know anyone that works at USP Terre Haute please contact them and say "just say no."
According to public records one Thomas J Watson age 53 resides in Terre Haute, Indiana. BOP records list the FCC Terre Haute Complex Warden as one T.J. Watson with the mailing address 1455 JUSTICE RD, TERRE HAUTE, IN 47802-9114. That address appears to be part of the FCC Terre Haute complex. Previous addresses listed all appear to be associated with other federal prisons. This indicates that unlike most BOP employees Warden Watson knows how to purchase or rent property through trusts so that his name is not linked to his home address in public records. We did however find a possible personal email address tomwatson1967[at]yahoo.com.
UPDATE: Brandon Bernard has been executed.