Brandon Bernard and Christopher Andre Vialva

Brandon Bernard already had a long history of legal troubles when, as an 18-year old, he, 19-year old Christopher Vialva, and three juvenile accomplies robbed, kidnapped, and killed Todd and Stacie Bagley on July 21, 1999. All five of the assailants were Black; the Bagleys were white.

The Bagleys, who were married and worked as youth pastors, agreed to give the five young men a ride when approached by them at a gas station at Ford Hood, Texas. Vialva then forced the couple into the trunk of the car while the five men drove around using the couple’s ATM card and trying to pawn their valuables.

After stealing what they could, they pulled the car over, shot the Bagleys, and set the car ablaze.

Because the crime occurred on a military base, it was subject to federal jurisdiction. At trial, two of the three juveniles testified against Vialva and Bernard in return for a lighter sentence. They have since been released. The third juvenile remains in prison. Bernard and Vialva were each convicted of two counts of capital murder in June 2000 and sentenced to death.

Appellate efforts focusing on the youth of Bernard and Vialva were unsuccessful. Later efforts that argued against the constitutionality of lethal injection and the hurried efforts of the Trump administration to carry out these executions were also unsuccessful.

Christopher Vialva was executed by lethal injection at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on September 24. 2020. Brandon Bernard met the same fate on December 10, 2020.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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