A man convicted of killing two people was executed on Thursday, marking the first black inmate put to death since the Trump administration’s revival of federal executions this year.
Christopher Vialva, 40, died at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana after receiving a lethal injection.
His execution came more than 20 years after he was sentenced to death in the Texas killing of Todd and Stacie Bagley, a white couple who were youth ministers.
Vialva was 19 at the time of the crime; critics noted this was the first time in nearly 70 years that the US has executed a man for a crime he committed as a teenager.
Just hours before his death, Vialva’s attorney, Susan Otto, said that race was “a very strong component” in the 2000 trial that landed her client on death row.
She claimed prosecutors used inflammatory racial stereotypes against Vialva and falsely portrayed him as a gang leader to the nearly all-white jury.
In a video statement released by his lawyers this month, Vialva expressed regret for what he had done.
“I committed a grave wrong when I was a lost kid and took two precious lives from this world,” he said. “Every day, I wish I could right this wrong.”
Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department resumed federal executions this year after a 17-year hiatus. Vialva was the seventh inmate to be executed since July and the second this week. Five of the first six were white, while the sixth was Navajo.
The executions come amid nationwide protests over the police killings of Black people and growing frustrations over racism in the criminal justice system. The Justice Department has not announced any future executions after Vialva’s.