A Louisiana truck driver who severely abused and killed his two-year-old daughter in 2002 has been put to death, continuing the Trump administration’s unprecedented series of post-election federal executions.
- Alfred Bourgeois was the 10th federal inmate to be put to death after executions resumed under Donald Trump’s presidency
- The last time the number of civilians executed federally was in the double digits in a year was in 1896
- Bourgeois’ lawyer said the “rush” of executions during the pandemic “makes absolutely no sense”
Alfred Bourgeois, 56, was pronounced dead at 8:21pm on Friday (local time) after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
WARNING: This story contains graphic content that some readers may find upsetting.
His lawyers argued Bourgeois had an IQ that puts him in the intellectually disabled category, saying that should have made him ineligible for the death penalty under federal law.
Victor J Abreu said it was “shameful” to execute his client “without fair consideration of his intellectual disability”.
Bourgeois was the 10th federal death-row inmate put to death since federal executions resumed under President Donald Trump in July after a 17-year hiatus. He was the second federal prisoner executed this week, with three more executions planned in January.
The last time the number of civilians executed federally was in the double digits in a year was under president Grover Cleveland, with 14 in 1896.
The series of executions under Mr Trump since election day, the first in late November, is also the first time in more than 130 years that federal executions have occurred during a lame-duck period. Cleveland also was the last president to do that.
Bourgeois’s lawyers contend that the apparent hurry by Mr Trump to get executions in before the January 20 inauguration of Joe Biden, who opposes the death penalty, has deprived their client his rights to exhaust his legal options.
The Justice Department gave Bourgeois just 21 days’ notice he was to be executed under protocols that slashed the required notice period from 90 days, his lawyer Shawn Nolan said.
Several appeals courts have concluded that neither evidence nor criminal law on intellectual disability support the claims by Bourgeois’s legal team.
On Thursday, Brandon Bernard was put to death for his part in a 1999 killing of a religious couple from Iowa after he and other teenage members of a gang abducted and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley in Texas.
Bernard, who was 18 at the time of the killings, was a rare execution of a person who was in his teens when his crime was committed.
Several high-profile figures, including Kim Kardashian West, appealed to Mr Trump to commute Bernard’s sentence to life in prison, citing, among other things, Bernard’s youth at the time and the remorse he has expressed over years.
In Bourgeois’s case, the crimes stand out as particularly brutal because they involved physical and sexual abuse of his young daughter, before fatally slamming her head against a truck’s windows and dashboard.
In his last words, Bourgeois offered no apology and instead struck a deeply defiant tone, insisting that he neither killed nor sexually abused his baby girl.
“I ask God to forgive all those who plotted and schemed against me, and planted false evidence,” he said.
“I did not commit this crime.”
Bourgeois met with his spiritual adviser on Friday as he sought to come to terms with the possibility of dying and he was also praying, Mr Nolan told The Associated Press just hours before the execution.
Bourgeois took up drawing in prison, including doing renditions of members of his legal team. Mr Nolan said Bourgeois had not been a troublemaker on death row and had a good disciplinary record.
After his 2004 conviction, a judge rejected claims stemming from his alleged intellectual disability, noting he did not receive a diagnosis until after he was sentenced to death.
Attorneys argued that finding was based on misunderstandings about such disabilities. They said Bourgeois had tests that demonstrated his IQ was around 70, well below average, and that his childhood history buttressed their claims.
Bourgeois’s lawyers did not argue that he should have been acquitted or should not have been handed a stiff penalty, just that he should not be executed, Mr Nolan said.