The U.S. Justice Department Thursday carried out the latest execution of a federal prisoner undertaken during the presidential transition period, something unprecedented in modern times.
The execution of Brandon Bernard by lethal injection was the ninth death penalty sentence carried out by federal authorities after an almost 20-year hiatus of the practice. Further executions are expected in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Bernard, 40, was a gang member convicted in the grisly 1999 killing of two youth ministers in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for the prisoner, who was a teenager when he committed the crime.
Several jurors from Bernard’s 2000 trial objected to the execution and asked the administration to show mercy.
Next month, the U.S. is scheduled to execute Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on death row. Montgomery strangled a pregnant woman and cut out her unborn child. The child survived the ordeal and is now a teenager.
Last month, the U.S. executed a 49-year-old man, Orlando Cordia Hall, for his role in the kidnapping and murder of a 16-year-old girl.
A Gallup poll earlier this year found Americans divided on capital punishment, with 55% favoring putting convicted murderers to death and 43% opposed.
President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he favors ending the death penalty.