Kim Kardashian has come under fire for comments she made on a podcast Wednesday about the 2020 execution of convicted killer Brandon Bernard, who she had campaigned to save.
During the appearance on progressive political commentator Van Jones’ Amazon Original podcast, Uncommon Ground, Kardashian recalled the events leading up to Bernard’s death on December 9, 2020 – and how it affected her.
‘I was working on the Brandon Bernard case, and he was, in fact, executed, and I remember crying and feeling so helpless,’ Kardashian, 41, told Jones, during a discussion about her recent law pursuits and work to free imprisoned individuals.
‘It was his last phone call, and he was telling me, like, “Don’t cry, it’s gonna be okay,’ Kardashian said, recalling her last conversation with Bernard, who was 18 when he and four other teens abducted and robbed a couple in Texas in 1999. The gang then fatally shot the pair and set their car ablaze with the two still inside and the woman possibly still alive.
The Supreme Court had the final decision to put the 40-year-old convict to death by lethal injection.
Kardashian told Jones about Bernard’s previously aired concerns that he would feel claustrophobic while strapped in the injection chair affected her day.
‘You know, hearing that he was worried that he’d be claustrophobic in the chair… moments like that – I’m like, if only someone could see my day,’ Kardashian gushed.
The reality star then recalled how the weight of the looming execution impeded her ability to pose for a shoot for her underwear company, Skims.
‘I’m like hysterically crying, calling every governor that I could possibly imagine to try to stop someone’s execution, and then I have to run into, you know, a Skims fitting, and I’m fitting and I’m crying and I can’t really get my work done, and then I have to, you know – it was just such a whirlwind of a day,’ Kardashian said.
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During the appearance on Van Jones’ Uncommon Ground, Kim Kardashian recalled the events leading up to Bernard’s death on December 9, 2020 – and how it affected her own day
The comments quickly inspired a firestorm on social media, with many lambasting the star for seemingly making the execution about herself.
‘Only Kim Kardashian could make a criminal’s execution all about herself,’ conservative activist Jack Posobiec, 36, tweeted after the podcast aired Wednesday morning.
He sarcastically added, ‘And she even worked in a Skims promo.’
Others were also quick to hone in on Kardashian’s seemingly insensitive comments.
‘We may have to have a moment of silence for interruption of her day rather than the man who died,’ one user sneered.
Kardashian recalled her last conversation with Bernard, who was was 18 when he and four other teens abducted and robbed a couple in Texas in 1999, and described his execution as a ‘whirlwind of a day’
The comments quickly inspired a firestorm on social media, with many lambasting the star for seemingly making the execution about herself – including conservative commentator Jack Posobiec
Posobiec also poked fun at Kardashian’s revelation that the impending execution affected her ability to do a shoot for her underwear line, Skims
‘Better not miss that Skims fitting,’ another joked.
‘So glad kanye is away from this sickness,’ someone else wrote, referencing Kardashian’s ongoing split with rapper Kanye West.
‘I wish I could be so clueless,’ someone else wrote. ‘Life would always be so grand.’
‘He should have hired a real lawyer,’ another joked.
A further user wrote: ‘I mean Comon [sic] everyone it was a tough day she had to fit in a fitting in between all this.’
Kardashian, who has been an outspoken advocate of criminal justice reform in recent years, fought fervently to commute Bernard’s sentence leading up to his death.
Bernard was 18 when he and robbed and killed Todd and Stacie Bagley, a devout Christian couple, on their way from a Sunday service in Killeen, Texas, in 1999.
According the Associated Press, Bernard spoke for three minutes right before his death, saying he had been waiting for this chance to say he was sorry – not only to the victims’ family, but also for the pain he caused his own family.
In his final words, Bernard addressed the families of Todd and Stacie Bagley through the window, telling them ‘I’m sorry.
‘That’s the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day,’ he added.
He remained calm as the curtain was lifted around the death chamber and journalists in the press pool claimed he nodded at them in greeting and showed no signs of fear.
The execution was delayed from 6pm after Bernard’s legal team pushed a final appeal, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
Social media users were quick to hone in on Kardashian’s seemingly insensitive comments
After the execution, held at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, one of the victims’ mothers, Georgia Bagley, told onlookers that she forgave Brown, and that his apology ‘helped very much to heal my heart’ after waiting 21 years for justice.
The families and friends of the Bagleys welcomed the ‘closure needed to move on in life’ following his death.
‘It has been very difficult to wait 21 years for the sentence that was imposed by the judge and jury on those who cruelly participated in the destruction of our children to be finally completed,’ said Bagley.
‘This senseless act of unnecessary evil was premeditated and had many opportunities to be stopped at any time during a 9-hour period. This was torture as they pleaded for their lives in the trunk of their own car.
‘Please remember that the lives of family and friends were shattered and we have all grieved for 21 years waiting for justice to finally be served.’
Following Brandon’s death, Kardashian slammed the U.S. justice system, branding it *f***ed up’.
Kardashian has fought for clemency for a slew of other death-row inmates in recent years. Some have proved successful.
Texas mother, Melissa Lucio, 53, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on April 27 after she said she ‘falsely’ confessed following hours of police interrogation to beating her two-year-old daughter to death.
Kardashian has fought for clemency for a slew of other death-row inmates in recent year – with many of the campaigns proving surprisingly successful – with the most recent being a Texas mother, Melissa Lucio, due to be executed in 21 days after she confessed to beating to death one of her daughters. Pictured: Lucio holds her deceased daughter Mariah, while one of her other daughters, Adriana, stands next to them in this undated photograph before the murder
Lucio dabs tears from her eyes as she is sentenced to death on July 10, 2008, in Brownsville, Texas. She is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on April 27 after she ‘falsely’ pleaded guilty to beating her two-year-old daughter to death following hours of police interrogation
Lucio maintains she is innocent and her lawyers contend Mariah died from injuries from a fall down 14 steps of a steep staircase outside the family’s apartment in the South Texas city of Harlingen.
During five hours of questioning, Lucio more than 100 times denied fatally beating the toddler to death. But worn down from a lifetime of abuse and the grief of losing her daughter, her lawyers said, the Texas woman finally acquiesced to investigators at 3am on February 17, 2007.
‘I guess I did it,’ Lucio said. Her lawyers said that statement was wrongly interpreted by prosecutors as a murder confession.
Kardashian has urged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to grant Lucio clemency after she ‘falsely pleaded guilty’ following hours of police interrogation.
‘It’s stories like Melissa’s that make me speak so loud about the death penalty in general and why it should be banned when innocent people are suffering,’ Kardashian said.
Lucio, who has been on death row for more than 14 years, had been sexually assaulted multiple times, starting at age 6, and had been abused by two husbands. Her lawyers said this lifelong trauma made her susceptible to giving a false confession.
They are also hopeful that public support spurred by Kardashian’s stance on the case will persuade the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles and Abbott to grant an execution reprieve or commute her sentence.
Kardashian also called for clemency for 26-year-old truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos whose brake failure caused a fiery crash that killed four people, and who was sentenced to 110 years in prison.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was driving a semi-truck on April 25, 2019, along Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado, when he slammed into two dozen vehicles – including four other transporters stuck in rush-hour traffic.
The impact caused a fireball explosion that incinerated cars and trucks, killing four people. On October 15, a jury found him guilty, and on December 13 he was sentenced to 110 years by Judge A. Bruce Jones – the minimum allowed by Colorado’s sentencing laws.
But in December, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis reduced the sentence to 10 years. Kardashian thanked the governor for the move.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was driving a semi-truck on April 25, 2019, along Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado, when he slammed into two dozen vehicles – including four other transporters stuck in rush-hour traffic. Four people were killed. He is pictured at his December 13 sentencing
The impact caused a fireball explosion that incinerated cars and trucks, killing four people. The driver was convicted of 27 criminal counts and sentenced to 110 years
In October 2017 Kardashian also heard the story of Alice Marie Johnson, sentenced to life in prison in 1997 after a conviction on eight criminal counts for a first-time, non-violent drug offense.
‘Life offered me no opportunity for parole because there is not parole in the prison system,’ Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter.
Kardashian retweeted the clip, commenting: ‘This is so unfair…’
On May 30, 2018 – Johnson’s 63rd birthday – Kardashian went to the White House to meet then-President Donald Trump about prison reform and seek a pardon for Johnson. One week later, she was pardoned.
Within a year, she had worked to pardon 19 people, according to BuzzFeed.
In January last year, Trump included another man Kardashian had advocated for on his list of pardons – Chris Young, who the reality TV star had been lobbying for since 2018.
Young was 22 when, due to the ‘three strikes’ law, he received a life sentence without parole for the non-violent offenses of marijuana and cocaine possession.
Trump commuted the remainder of Young’s sentence.