TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The seventh federal execution took place on Thursday evening. Christopher Vialva was put to death by the federal government for his crimes in 1999.
The Death Penalty Action group has been in Terre Haute for each of these executions. They were across from the Federal Prison on Thursday again along with many local groups protesting against capital punishment.
Thursday morning, protesters gathered at the same location—the intersection of Springhill Drive and SR 63—to hold a press conference. That’s where Christopher Vialva’s mother, Lisa Brown, spoke about her son’s impending execution.
Brown said repeatedly that her son, Christopher Vialva, is a changed man. She says it’s important to note that four of the six boys involved with this crime have been released from prison. Only her son and Brandon Bernard remain on death row. They were the only two that were old enough at the time of the crime to face the death penalty.
Brown also says she believes that there was a lot of injustice in Vialva’s case and trial that the system refused to acknowledge. She made allegations against the trial judge and the lead trial attorney.
With all this in mind, Brown says something should change and her son is a changed man.
“That should be enough to bring this justice system to an awakening that something is deeply flawed,” Brown said, “The most important thing about Christopher is that he is not that 19-year old that was convicted 21 years ago. He is a new man. I can’t stress that enough.”
Christopher Vialva and Brandon Bernard were convicted of carjacking and murdering Todd and Stacey Bagley in 1999. Vialva was just 19 years old. Brown spoke to the media about the message she passed along to the Bagley family.
“This is the first venue in which I could say to Todd and Stacey’s family, ‘I am so sorry for your loss’,” Brown explained while fighting back tears, “‘I’ve never been able to tell them that because I was told I could not have access to them. My son wants you to know that he is deeply remorseful for the pain that he has caused you.’”
Brown spoke about the many conversations she has had with Christopher over the past few months. She says he is not that 19-year-old boy anymore, but he is a changed man. She says that’s what gives her peace ahead of his execution.
“What they failed to even calculate into the process is that there is an ability to be redeemed and rehabilitated. My son has been renewed and he is a new man. He’s changed and he’s redeemed. I believe that with all of my heart,” Brown concluded, “That’s why I’m able to let him go. I believe that the Father is taking him home, and I’m okay with that. There’s a peace in knowing that I will see him again.”
Lisa Brown, her sister, and Vialva’s primary minister stood witness to his execution.