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Brandon Bernard. (Photo: Bernard Defense Team via Facebook.)

Booker asks Trump to halt execution set for tomorrow

Ex-Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Texas man in 2000 says death penalty should not have been sought

By David Wildstein, December 09 2020 5:00 pm

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is asking President Donald Trump to commute the sentence of a Texas  man who is due to be executed tomorrow.

Brandon Bernard was sentenced to death more than 20 years ago when a jury found him guilty as an accomplice to murder when he was 18-years-old.

Booker said that Bernard just narrowly missed a constitutional provision that prohibits the death penalty for minors.

“Since he was sentenced to death, new evidence has come to light and a number of deficiencies in his initial defense have been exposed,” said Booker and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) in a statement.  “We know that the death penalty in the United States is fatally flawed in its imposition and is disproportionately imposed based on race.”

In an Op-Ed published in the Indianapolis Star last month, one of the federal prosecutors who tried Bernard, Angela Moore, said she was wrong and that the death penalty ought not have been sought.

Moore said that Bernard “lacked an adult’s capacity to control his impulses, consider alternative courses of action or anticipate the consequences of his behavior.

“This scientific truth played a decisive role in the Supreme Court’s recent decisions holding that juveniles should be treated differently in the criminal justice system,” Moore stated.  “The same science shows that 18-year-olds are no different from 17-year-olds in both immaturities and potential for rehabilitation.”

Booker noted that five of the jurors who backed the death penalty in 2000 have no changed their minds.

“Mr. Bernard’s post-conviction attorneys have continued to seek legal relief in the courts and Mr. Bernard should be allowed to keep pursuing available legal avenues to challenge his death sentence,” Booker and Durbin said.  “The President should commute Mr. Bernard’s sentence.”

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