Christopher Vialva prayed for the families of his victims Thursday evening.
The U.S. government executed a Black federal inmate for the first time in 17 years on Thursday, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a motion to postpone the sentence.
Christopher Andre Vialva, 40, was pronounced dead at 6:46 p.m. ET in the death chamber of the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, prison officials said.
My colleague @georgehale is a media witness for tonight’s execution of Christopher Vialva at USP-Terre Haute. He tells me witnesses are on their way to the death house and there are no legal impediments to the execution scheduled for 6:00 pm EDT. @wtiunews@WFIUNewspic.twitter.com/Nfnm94N1jy
Vialva blinked rapidly behind thick black glasses as prison officials in an adjacent room began injecting execution drugs through IV lines attached by the hand and arm.
He took a deep breath, and looked side to side. He raised his eyebrows and pressed his tongue against the inside of his mouth, appearing restless while awaiting the effects of the drug.
At one point, he lifted his head and glanced around the room before taking a deep breath and returning it to a pillow. He leaned his head down and to his left.
His breathing became irregular, and he opened his mouth in the appearance of a yawn. He appeared to nod while taking light breaths, and his mouth opened and closed slowly.
Vialva remained nearly motionless for the next several minutes.
The execution began about 6:20 p.m. and concluded between 6:40 p.m. and 6:50 p.m.
After about 20 minutes, a man with a stethoscope checked vital signs. After he returned through a door behind the main room, a loudspeaker switched on. "Death has occurred at 6:42 p.m. This concludes the execution of inmate Vialva," a voice on an intercom said.
Later, prison officials told media witnesses that the death actually occurred at 6:46 p.m. ET.
The did not explain why two different times were announced.
In his final waking moments, Vialva prayed for the relatives of Todd and Stacey Bagley, who he shot and killed in 1999 during a robbery with other gang members.
"Father, this is my final prayer," Vialva said, asking "that you fill their hearts with grace and love" and replace the anger and pain he caused them.
"I'm asking this in your name. Amin," he said. "I'm ready, father."
Relatives of Vialva's victims declined to speak to reporters.
I just filled out final paperwork at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, to serve as a media witness for the execution of Christopher Andre Vialva. Vialva would be the first Black inmate to be executed by the Trump administration. The execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET. pic.twitter.com/AhKoJaojGl
But in a written statement provided by prison officials, Todd Bagley's mother Georgia said she was disappointed to see media focus on changes Vialva made in his life.
"Vialva now says he has turned his life around and has influenced other lies since then, but Todd and Stacie have also influenced many lives. We will never know how many people they could have influenced for good if they had been given the chance," she said.
"I feel when these tragedies happen, both sides of the story should be given. I believe when someone deliberately takes the life of another, they should suffer the consequences for their actions," Georgia wrote.
She also thanked President Donald Trump and others for showing "compassion to the victims" by resuming federal death sentences.
According to court records, the Bagleys prayed for their attackers and begged for mercy before they were killed. One of Vialva’s co-defendants, Brandon Bernard, was also sentenced to death for his role in the crime.
Tony Sparks, who was 16 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to life in prison for carjacking. That sentence was later reduced. Two teens were also given 20-year prison sentences for their roles in the crimes, and a 15-year-old received a five-year sentence.