Man convicted of murdering two youth ministers executed

News 10's Alia Blackburn reports the federal government has executed Christopher Vialva.

Posted: Sep 24, 2020 12:41 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2020 7:46 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTHI) - News 10's Alia Blackburn reports the federal government has executed Christopher Vialva.

Blackburn served as a media witnesses for the execution.

Prison officials list his time of death as 6:46 pm.

Blackburn says Vialva's last words included a prayer asking for "Father to search the hearts of Todd & Stacie’s (Bagley) family and heal their hearts with grace and love." He ended his statement by saying “I’m ready, Father.”

The government says, in 1999 Christopher Andre Vialva murdered youth ministers Todd and Stacey Bagley in Texas.

Todd and Stacey Bagley gave Vialva and two of his accomplices a ride. They forced the couple into the trunk. Prosecutors said Vialva shot both of them.

After that, an accomplice set the car on fire.

LINK | ANTI-DEATH PENALTY ACTIVIST SPEAKS OUT ON HER COMMUNICATION WITH CHRISTOPHER VIALVA

See the full description from the Department of Justice below:

"Christopher Andre Vialva murdered youth ministers Todd and Stacie Bagley in 1999. While stopping to use a payphone in Killeen, Texas, Todd Bagley agreed to give a ride to Vialva and two of his accomplices.

In the victims’ car, Vialva pulled out a gun, forced the Bagleys into the trunk, and drove the vehicle for several hours, stopping at ATMs to withdraw money from the couple’s bank account and trying to pawn Stacie Bagley’s wedding ring. While locked in the trunk, the couple spoke with their abductors about God and pleaded for their lives. Vialva eventually parked at a remote site on the Fort Hood, Texas, military reservation, where an accomplice doused the car with lighter fluid as the couple sang and prayed.

Vialva then shot Todd Bagley in the head, killing him instantly, and shot Stacie Bagley in the face, knocking her unconscious and leaving her to die of smoke inhalation after an accomplice set the car on fire. In June 2000, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas found Vialva guilty of, among other offenses, two counts of murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States and unanimously recommended two death sentences.

His convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal, and his requests for collateral relief were rejected by every court that considered them. Vialva’s execution is scheduled for Sept. 24, 2020."

See a recorded video from Viavla below, or click here to watch. 

Did race play a part in Vialva’s conviction?

The Associated Press reports Vialva’s lawyer says race played a central role in landing him on death row for the slaying of the couple. Vialva is the first Black inmate to be executed since they resumed this year.

Attorney Susan Otto says just one juror was Black and 11 white at Vialva’s 2000 federal trial in western Texas.

She says prosecutors also portrayed Vialva as the leader of a Black street gang faction who supposedly killed the couple to boost his status within the gang.

Otto contends there was no evidence Vialva was a gang member and that the false claim only served to conjure up menacing stereotypes to prejudice the nearly all-white jury.

News 10's Alia Blackburn was selected to serve as a media witness for the execution.

Earlier in the week, we saw a delay that lasted for several hours ahead of William LeCroy's execution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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