Inmate becomes first Black executed in federal prison this year

Christopher Vialva: First Black person executed in federal prison this year

A 40-year-old man who killed a religious couple visiting Texas in 1999 was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, becoming the first Black federal inmate put to death this year.

Christopher Andre Vialva was pronounced dead at 6:42 p.m EDT at the Federal Correction Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, WTWO reported.

Vialva became the seventh person executed at the federal prison this year, two days after William Emmett LeCroy, a former U.S. soldier who said an obsession with witchcraft led him to kill a Georgia nurse in 2001, was put to death.

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Five of the first six prisoners executed were white, while the sixth person was a Navajo.

In a video statement released by his lawyers on Thursday, Vialva expressed regrets.

“I committed a grave wrong when I was a lost kid and took two precious lives from this world,” Vialvo said. “Every day, I wish I could right this wrong.”

In the death chamber, Vialva’s final statement was a prayer for the Bagleys’ families, WTWO reported. His final words were, “I am ready, Father.”

Vialva was 19 in 1999 when he fatally shot Todd and Stacie Bagley, who were visiting Texas from Iowa, according to The Associated Press.

Vialva and two other teens asked the Bagleys for a ride while they were driving home from a church service, WTWO reported. Vialva pulled a gun on the couple and the trio robbed them, locking the Bagleys in their trunk, the television station reported. Vialvo withdrew money from the Bagleys' accounts through ATMs. The couple sang “Jesus Loves Us” before Vialvo shot them and then incinerated them in their car, WTWO reported.

One of Vialva’s accomplices, Brandon Bernard, is also on death row at the federal penitentiary, the television station reported.

Vialva’s mother, Lisa Brown, spoke at an anti-death penalty rally Thursday morning across from the federal prison.

“I’ve never been able to tell you that because I was told I could not have access to you,” Brown told reporters. “My son wants you to know that he is deeply remorseful for the pain that he has caused you and the other members of the family for your loss.”

Christopher Andre Vialvo became the seventh federal inmate -- and the first Black -- to be executed this year.
Christopher Andre Vialvo became the seventh federal inmate -- and the first Black -- to be executed this year. (Susan Otto via AP)