Christopher Andre Vialva was an African-American man from Texas, United States. He was a teenager when he and his accomplice Brandon Bernard, an African-American man born in 1981, killed white couple Todd Bagley and Stacie Bagley, who were Christian youth ministers from Iowa, USA born in 1973 and 1971, respectively.
In July 2019, U.S. attorney general William P. Barr announced the resumption of federal executions. Vialva was the first African-American inmate executed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons since then as well as the first federal inmate executed for crimes committed as a teenager in more than 70 years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
In a last statement, Vialva asked God to comfort Todd and Stacie’s families. The inmate said, “Father… heal their hearts with grace and love.”
“I’m ready, Father” were Vialva’s final words. Here are 13 more facts about him:
- He was born in May 1980.
- His white mother Lisa Brown grew up in a military family and enlisted in the U.S. Army upon her high school graduation. She lives in Killeen, Texas.
- His father was a soldier from Trinidad. He was 19 years old when he married Brown. They met at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA. She was disowned by her own father when he found out that he married the soldier, who was violent and abusive toward her. She eventually left the father of her son and had relationships with abusive white men, who all rejected her son.
- He attended Ellison High School in Killeen, where he played football. In high school, he was often disciplined for being disruptive, The Intercept has learned.
- On June 21, 1999, he and other teenagers including Bernard were looking for someone to rob when they found Todd using a payphone at a convenience store. The pastor agreed to give him and his accomplices a ride in his car. In the back seat, he pulled out a gun and ordered Todd and Stacie to get into the car’s boot. He forced Todd to disclose his PIN then he withdrew cash from the pastor’s account at an ATM and was able to get $100, which he used to buy several items including fast food and cigarettes. He spent six hours driving around Bell County, Texas while the couple was locked in the trunk. He eventually drove the car to a secluded area in the Belton Lake Recreation Area on the grounds of Fort Hood in Killeen and opened the trunk. When Stacie told him that God loved him, he cursed at her and shot her in the head with a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol but she did not die. He also shot Todd in the head and the pastor died instantly. He ordered his accomplices to pour lighter fluid in the trunk and on the car. Bernard set it on fire and Stacie died of smoke inhalation.
- Because the murders were committed on Fort Hood, he and Bernard were tried in federal court. On June 13, 2000, a jury of 11 white people and one African-American person at his trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas found him and Bernard guilty of carjacking, first degree murder on a government reservation, aiding and abetting and conspiracy to commit murder. The jury voted for the two to receive the death penalty.
- In 2003, he met his lawyer Susan Otto, who said race played a role in landing him on death row.
- While in prison, he crocheted several stuffed animals and blankets for his mother.
- One of his supporters was Indiana lawyer and activist named Ashley Kincaid Eve.
- On August 10, 2020, he filed a 100-page habeas corpus petition in federal district court, which was denied on September 9, 2020.
- On September 15, 2020, his lawyers released a five-minute video featuring his message to the media. Seated against a white background, he was wearing glasses, a beige prison uniform, a knitted kippah and a white and blue prayer shawl over his shoulders while reading from a piece of paper held in his handcuffed hands. In the message, he described himself as an innocent, changed and redeemed man who “committed a grave wrong” when he was “a lost kid and took two precious lives from this world” and every day, he wished he “could right this wrong.”
- On September 18, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied his request for a stay of execution.
- On September 24, 2020, he was executed by lethal injection. He was pronounced dead at 6:46 p.m. at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, USA, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.