Murder prisoner Brandon Bernard has been executed in Indiana after last-minute submission of appeals was rejected by the US Supreme Court.
Bernard, 40, was convicted of murder in 1999 as a child, and is the youngest criminal to be executed by the state government in nearly 70 years.
Bernard told the couple’s family he killed her that he was sorry, before he died of a lethal injection on Thursday.
Executions Under Trump Presidency
Another four executions were planned before the end of President Donald Trump.
If all five take place, Mr Trump will have overseen the most executions by a US president in more than a century. It would bring to 13 the total of federal executions since July.
They break with a 130-year-old precedent of pausing executions amid a presidential transition. Joe Biden becomes president on 20 January.
The last words of the executed man.
Bernard was pronounced dead at 21:27 local time on Thursday (02:27 GMT Friday) at the Terre Haute city jail.
He then addressed his family of the victims, speaking in a low voice for more than three minutes.
“I’m sorry. These are the only words I can say that fully express how I feel now and how I felt that day,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
The killing was delayed for more than two hours after Bernard’s lawyers asked him to come to the Supreme Court to stop it.
He was sentenced to death for his involvement in the murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley in June 1999.
He was one of five teenagers accused of robbing the two and forcing them into the boot of their car in Texas.
They were shot asleep in the boot by 19-year-old Christopher Vialva before Bernard set fire to the car.
Defense lawyers said both of the Bagleys may have died before the car was set on fire, and an independent investigator hired by law enforcement said Stacie was “medically” before the fire.
However, government evidence during the trial said that although Todd Bagley died instantly, Stacie had been exposed to smoke in her airway, indicating that she had been killed by smoke and not a gunshot wound.
Bernard’s lawyers say he fears what will happen to him if he refuses to comply with the orders of Vialva, who was executed in September.
Others involved in the incident have been given prison sentences as they are under 18 years of age and are considered minor.
Bernard’s lawyers argued that he should be given life in prison without parole, as, during his entire time in prison, he kept a good record and worked with outreach programs to prevent people from engaging in crime.
The state prosecutor who defended Bernard’s death sentence had asked Bernard to see his sentence in prison.
In a commentary published in the Indianapolis Star, Angela Moore wrote: “Having learned so much since 2000 about the maturity of the human brain and seeing Brandon grow into a humble, remorseful adult who knows how to live peacefully in prison, how can we do that? who should be put to death? “
Five of the nine surviving judges have asked Mr. Trump to postpone Bernard’s death sentence.
Tens of thousands of other people have called on the President to give Bernard gentleness, including senators Richard J Durbin and Cory Brooker.
On Thursday, key lawyers Allen Dershowitz and Ken Starr also joined his legal team.
Real television star Kim Kardashian West sent several tweets about Bernard’s case to his fans before his execution, urging them to leave the problem and raise awareness.
Ms. Kardashian West is studying law in California and has previously helped handle criminal cases.
In March she visited the White House with three women whose prison sentences were suspended by President Trump.
The families of Todd and Stacie Bagley both expressed gratitude to President Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other officials.
Todd Bagley’s family said it had been “very difficult” to wait 21 years for the sentence imposed “on those who cruelly participated in the destruction of our children, to be finally completed”.
“The lives of family and friends were shattered and we all have grieved for 21 years waiting for justice to finally be served,” the statement said.
“Thank you to all who were involved in this process of getting justice for Todd and Stacie.”
Stacie Bagley’s family said their lives had been changed forever by the murders. They said Stacie still had the chance of survival until the car was set on fire.
“God will forgive us of our sins, but the consequences of our sin will always play out,” the statement read.