The US government executed convicted murderer Christopher Vialva on Thursday, the first black man to suffer the federal death penalty since the punishment was resumed this summer after a 17-year hiatus.
Vialva was 19 when he and fellow members of a gang in Killeen, Texas, killed Todd and Stacie Bagley, white married Christian youth ministers from Iowa, on the Fort Hood army base in 1999.
He was pronounced dead at 6.46pm after US Department of Justice officials injected him with pentobarbital, a barbiturate, at the execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana, according to a reporter serving as a media witness.
Vialva, a Messianic Jew, used his last words to ask God to comfort his victims’ families, according to the media witness.
“Heal their hearts with grace and love. I’m ready, Father.”
After the injections began, he furrowed his brow, yawned and looked toward the witness room from which his mother was expected to view his execution.
Within minutes, he stopped moving, his mouth agape.
It was the seventh federal execution this year, and the second this week, after the practice was resumed by President Donald Trump’s administration.
Under Trump, the Justice Department has now executed twice as many men this year as all of Trump’s predecessors combined going back to 1963.