Good morning from Terre Haute, IN, where the DOJ plans to kill another man in the federal death chamber tonight--the 7th since July. Christopher Vialva was 19 when he killed a young couple in Fort Hood, TX. His co-defendant is also on death row. He was 18.…
At 40, Vialva isn't the youngest man to face execution under Trump. Lezmond Mitchell was 38 when he died last month. Both did horrific things at 19. Advocates for both also describe how they grew up, showed remorse, contributed to the world around them.…
When the Supreme Court struck down death sentences for juveniles in 2005, it was on the basis that young people are less culpable for their crimes. Scientific research has long shown that brain development continues well into our 20s. None of us are the same people we were at 19.
This piece by @jason_chein, expert in brain & cognitive science, applies those findings to Vialva’s case. In fact, it urges the Supreme Court to revisit the “bright-line rule” setting 18 as the age where one's crimes should dictate whether you live or die.…
Another thing Mitchell & Vialva have in common: Both were tried & sentenced by nearly all-white juries. Both had inept representation. At the time of his trial, Vialva’s lawyer was actively seeking a job w/the US Attorney’s office—the same office trying to send his client to die.
I’ll have more to say later. I know there is a lot happening. People are working through a lot of trauma and it feels overwhelming to add to the mix. But these executions are state violence at its most premeditated, and they are carried out in our names.…
Soon I'll be driving to the FCC Terre Haute Training Center, where media witnesses will assemble before the execution of Christopher Vialva, scheduled for 6pm ET. I'll continue this thread from this AM. In the meantime, follow media witness @georgehale.
For the 7th time since July (and, really, more times than that if you followed the all-night ordeals that were the first 2 executions), media witnesses are inside the FCC Terre Haute Training Center, waiting to be taken to the federal penitentiary.
These are the vans that will take the media witnesses to the prison, where they will go through security before being taken to the death house. The drivers wear surgical masks and gloves. One of them was loudly playing what sounded like Sean Hannity radio earlier.
Vans just left. For the first executions there were 8 media witnesses. The numbers have gone down since then. I believe there are 6 this time. One local reporter has witnessed all of them.
Here’s a short thread on an aspect of the case that I wasn’t able to get into my story about Christopher Vialva. It is bonkers. And speaks volumes about the ethics of the man who was appointed to his case, which he handled while actively seeking a job w/ the US Attorneys office.
This same lawyer, Goains, spoke to Vialva’s mother only twice. With the trial days away, his co-counsel told her in an email that Goains was close to getting a job w/the same US Attorney’s Office that was seeking death against her son—but don’t worry, it hasn’t affected his work.
This morning, Vialva’s mother, Lisa Brown, spoke at a press conference outside the Dollar General down the road. The BOP does not have a setup for anyone on the side of the condemned to speak to reporters. Family members and spiritual advisors are barred from the media center.
You can watch the full press conference here, courtesy of @DeathPenaltyAct…
Many of the same activists are across from the prison now. Lisa Brown is witnessing her son's execution, along with her older sister.
In my correspondence with Vialva, he's been extremely protective of his mother, who has avoided the press for the past 20 years. At the same time, he's expressed deep frustration that there has not been more attention on the federal executions from media--or from the Democrats.
These executions have occurred amid rising Covid cases in Indiana & Vigo County. A staffer involved in preparations back in July was revealed to have tested positive on the eve of the first execution. The ACLU sued to get info. (Disclosure: I gave a declaration for the FOIA suit)
At the Dollar General, Ashley Kincaid Eve speaks. She has been Vialva’s most vocal supporter these last weeks. She is also a lawyer & hoped to file a late challenge to his execution. But he asked her not to. He didn’t want to end up laying on the gurney for 4 hrs like Daniel Lee.
Rodrick Reed is also speaking. He is the brother of Rodney Reed, who has come close to execution in Texas multiple times despite significant evidence of his innocence. The Reed family is dedicated to ending the death penalty—not just for the innocent, but for everyone.
At the time of execution, activists light candles.
And as they have six times before, they take turns tolling a bell.
Just got the email from BOP. “Please report back to the Media Center at this time.” Christopher Vialva has been executed.
Statement from Todd Bagley’s mother:

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More from @LilianaSegura

12 Jan
Good evening from the FCC Terre Haute Training Center, where reporters are gathered to cover the execution of Lisa Montgomery. There is more press than usual tonight. Some, including myself, are here for the 11th time since July 2020.
Non-witnessing press are currently being briefed by BOP spokesperson Scott Taylor, who just told us that the victim’s family will not be addressing reporters after the execution.
These are the vans that take media witnesses to the penitentiary. The execution was originally scheduled for 6pm, but multiple stays have been in place at various times and litigation is ongoing. Everyone agrees it could be a long night and that this will come down to SCOTUS.
Read 33 tweets
19 Nov 20
Hello from Terre Haute, IN, where the Trump administration plans to execute 49-year-old Orlando Hall tonight. There is a stay currently in place, which I only found out about upon arriving at the media center a little while ago. Of course, this could change.
By now there are several familiar faces at the FCC Terre Haute Training Center, from the BOP official who lets us in to park, to the lady taking temperatures, to the spokesperson who gives the brief media orientation. These are the vans that take press witnesses to the prison.
Ordinarily BOP staffers provide little to no information to press about the status of appeals, etc. But we have been told there is “activity in the courts” and that it could be a long night. As far as the DOJ is concerned, the execution will happen, it is just a matter of when.
Read 31 tweets
22 Sep 20
So, I’m back in Terre Haute, IN, where the Trump DOJ is preparing to carry out its 6th federal execution since July. These vans were at the FCC Terre Haute Training Center a moment ago, but they just left, carrying media witnesses for the killing of William LeCroy at 6pm. Image
It's hard to know what more to say right now. This is my third trip to Terre Haute this year, following a couple of visits in 2019. Some previous coverage here:… & here… & here…
When I first visited Terre Haute last year, my first stop was the local library, which has a small archive related to the federal penitentiary. When it opened in 1940, a fawning press described it as “a hospital to cure men of tendencies which make them socially undesirable.”
Read 28 tweets
9 Sep 20
I wrote (again) about the events in Terre Haute, where the Trump administration killed two more people last month. At least two more federal executions are set for this year, with additional dates likely to be on the way.…
One thing I want to quickly highlight is an interview I got too late to include in my previous piece about Lezmond Mitchell, whose lawyers tried unsuccessfully to get permission from the court to investigate racial bias among jurors. (More on that here):…
On the eve of Mitchell's death, I spoke to the jury foreperson. Despite the fact that she was among 11 white jurors (& one Navajo) she remembers thinking it was people "from all walks of life...all kinds of backgrounds. And I thought, Wow, this is really...a jury of your peers.”
Read 6 tweets
28 Aug 20
For the 5th time since last month, I’m outside the FCC Terre Haute training center. The Trump administration plans to kill Keith Dwayne Nelson in just over an hour. Media witnesses have not left yet. But I did see Nelson’s spiritual advisor being escorted to the prison earlier. ImageImage
Media witnesses are kept separate from non-witnessing press at this makeshift media center. But in a briefing earlier we were told the family of Nelson’s victim, 10-year-old Pamela Butler, will address reporters afterward. As far as any stays, BOP says “there are no impediments.”
Eight media witnesses just filed into the two vans, which are pulling away now. A number of these reporters have witnessed all four federal executions before today. A few more witnessed the execution of Lezmond Mitchell on Wednesday.
Read 14 tweets
26 Aug 20
Hello again from Terre Haute, IN, where the Trump administration plans to kill Lezmond Mitchell in just over an hour. Last month, 3 men were executed here in one week. I’m back at the FCC Terre Haute training center, where media witnesses should be leaving for the prison soon. Image
These are the vans that take reporters to the prison grounds, where they go through security before being led to the death chamber. There are some familiar faces here. A couple journalists here witnesses last months’ executions, which turned into punishing all-night ordeals. Image
Vans just pulled out. The execution appears to be set to take place on schedule.
Read 13 tweets

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