Donald Trump continues federal executions, breaks transition precedent

The Trump Timeline

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40-year-old Brandon Bernard is executed in Terre Haute, Indiana. His is the first of five executions scheduled between the day the Joe Biden transition began and inauguration day.

Five executions are scheduled before President-elect Joe Biden’s 20 January inauguration – breaking with an 130-year-old precedent of pausing executions amid a presidential transition.

And if all five take place, Mr Trump will be the country’s most prolific execution president in more than a century, overseeing the executions of 13 death row inmates since July of this year.


Brandon Bernard’s execution is the ninth since William Barr announced the program would restart. The U.S. had not executed any convicted felon in 17 years.

Bernard was convicted in 2000 for the gang murder of two youth ministers when he was 18 years old. In a related case 18 years after the conviction, lawyers discovered that federal prosecutors in his trial had forced at least one false testimony against Bernard and withheld evidence which diminished his role in the murders. The new evidence suggested that Bernard’s participation in the crime was forced and that he feared for his life if he refused. Prosecutors and the Justice Department depicted him as one of the gang’s leaders.

Former attorneys for Donald Trump — Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr — joined Bernard’s lawyers in requesting a delay of the execution for an emergency appeal. The request was denied.


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