By Martimeano Villa
TERRA HAUTE, IN – On September 24 at 6:42 p.m. ET, Christopher André Vialva’s execution was carried out by the federal government by way of lethal injection. Time of death was later changed to 6:46 p.m. with no explanation given.
Vialva is among seven federal executions conducted in the last three months after none in nearly 20 years. Vialva was committed for the crime when he was 19 years old in 1999.
Vialva is the first Black person under the Trump administration to be executed.
The federal defender for Vialva Susan Otto recounted how saddened she was “to announce that the federal government succeeded in killing Christopher Vialva this evening for a crime he committed as a teenager,” following the execution.
Otto remarked on the 17 years she had represented Vialva, stating, “I saw him grow from a lost, angry boy into a deeply thoughtful and introspective man.”
Otto then continued by remarking, “The jury never heard the substantial and compelling evidence that would have convinced them to spare his life.” The jury that ultimately decided Vialva’s execution, if they had known of his Messianic affiliations, Otto believes, would have likely proved his transformation.
Otto then later said, “Given everything we know about the vast failings of the criminal legal system—poor lawyering, racism, and imbalances of power—we must ask ourselves: Is this justice?”
Prior to the execution, Vialva shared by way of his attorney his “… journey of growth and repentance,” referencing the Bagleys, the family of the victims of Vialva’s crime from 21 years ago:
“I took your loved ones away from you. Their words are what started me on a path to faith. At the end of the path I found salvation, and the Messiah has now guided my life for over a decade. I have the Bagleys to thank for that. The Bagleys are heroes, and we should rejoice in their heroism. They lived their faith and their faith was an inspiration.”
Vialva’s final remarks to his attorney were: “To the family of the Bagleys: I apologize for taking two shining lights away from you. I know you love them dearly, and you may feel that what I did was unforgivable. I wouldn’t dare ask for forgiveness. That is too big of a request. However, I am sorry nonetheless, and if ending my life brings you peace then I am glad to end it.”
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