Look Here, not Here

bagley-family-picture-1Before and after the execution of Brandon Bernard, as always, the informational services were displaying pictures of convicted criminal Brandon Bernard as the victim of a ruthless system. Let me begin by saying that whether you are for or against the death penalty is not the point. There are arguments to both sides and always will be. The main point is why the collective focus has devolved into looking at the convicted as the victim, instead of the victim as the victim. There is more readily available information on the life of Brandon Bernard than Todd and Stacie Bagley.

Todd and Stacie were involved in Christian youth ministry in Iowa and had returned to Texas to attend a revival service. Using a payphone at a gas station, Todd was approached by gang members as Stacie waited in the car. The gang members asked for a ride and Todd agreed to give them one. While being driven to the determined location, one of the gang members began the robbery process and told Todd to stop the car. Eventually, Todd and Stacie were robbed and put into the trunk. While being driven around for six hours, Todd and Stacie talked to the gang members about God (recalled by the gang members in the interviews). Todd and Stacie were subsequently shot and the car set on fire. From that point on, the children and grandchildren of Todd and Stacie evaporated. From that point on, the parents of Todd and Stacie will never have a conversation with them again. From that point on, Todd and Stacie will only be a memory. But Todd and Stacie’s influence on the lives of others will live for generations. To the very end, Todd and Stacie tried to help others. According to the gang members, Todd and Stacie’s last words were “Jesus loves you” and “Jesus take care of us.” 

Moving forward twenty-one years (yes, twenty-one years), the victims of this horrific crime fade into the background and a new victim is brought forward: the convicted criminal. Soft music is played and pictures are streamed of the criminal when he was a child. Why? Sympathy. But that is a shell game. Look here, not here. Whether the criminal sits in a prison for the next fifty years and dies or dies by lethal injection, dead is dead. The only difference is that it gives the criminal a chance to earn a free college degree(s), make friends, attend visits with family, conduct interviews, and even get married. Todd and Stacie did not get twenty-one years to mull things over. They were granted six hours.

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