WASHINGTON – The Justice Department on Friday executed Alfred Bourgeois, a 56-year-old inmate who was sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder of his 2-year-old daughter.
The execution of Mr Bourgeois was the 10th carried out by the Trump administration since the federal government reinstated the death penalty in July after a 17-year hiatus. The execution of Mr Bourgeois, last slated by the Trump administration in 2020, adds to the deadliest year in the history of the death penalty since at least the 1920s.
Mr. Bourgeois was pronounced dead at 8:21 p.m. in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
On Thursday, the federal government executed Brandon Bernard despite a high profile forbearance campaign that included Kim Kardashian West and two attorneys defending President Trump during his impeachment. Mr Trump’s administration has executed three people since Election Day, the only federal executions during the Lame Duck period before a new presidential administration in at least 90 years.
The Justice Department said Mr. Bourgeois, once a truck driver living in Louisiana, tortured and beaten his young daughter to death. After a paternity test found him to be a father and a court ordered the payment of child benefit, Mr Bourgeois temporarily took over custody of his daughter, according to court records.
When the child in Mr. Bourgeois’ truck tipped over her potty chair, he attacked the young girl and she died the next day, the Justice Department said. After hearing evidence of his violence against others, Mr. Bourgeois was sentenced to death in 2004 for murder, a federal offense, because it took place at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, after the jury heard evidence of violence against others.
In his last words, Mr Bourgeois did not apologize, according to a report by a journalist who was present. Rather, he claimed that he did not kill his daughter.
“I ask God to forgive all those who planned and planned against me and planted false evidence,” he said, adding, “I did not commit this crime.”
When the lethal injection began, Mr. Bourgeois gave his spiritual advisor, who was standing in a corner of the death chamber, a thumbs up, the report said. Within a few minutes his body was still.
In a statement, the victim’s family said they could start the healing process now, but justice should not have lasted 18 years.
The department had scheduled the execution of Mr. Bourgeois for last January, but the month before the Supreme Court left a lower court order blocking them. A federal judge in Indiana also granted a stay in his case in March after his defense alleged that Mr. Bourgeois was mentally retarded and was not eligible for the death penalty. Another court cleared this stay in October.
The federal death penalty law prohibits the government from executing a mentally retarded inmate under the law, and the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that mentally retarded criminals should not be killed. His lawyers alleged that Mr Bourgeois had received IQ scores low enough to indicate deficiencies in intellectual functioning and that other assessments had been carried out showing that he should be exempt from the death penalty.
But like other inmates executed by the federal government this year, Mr. Bourgeois was unsuccessful in his final request to delay his execution. The Supreme Court denied Mr Bourgeois’ request to stay on Friday, with Judges Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan disagreeing. Along with Judge Kagan, Judge Sotomayor wrote that the court should resolve the legal problem in his case, which is likely to recur, before authorizing the execution of Mr. Bourgeois.
Victor J. Abreu, an attorney for Mr. Bourgeois, claimed the government killed his client without fair consideration and “despite clear instructions from the US Supreme Court and federal law prohibiting his execution”.
Another offer of redress made in the last few days by Mr Bourgeois was also unsuccessful. In a 5-to-4 ruling by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the judges also declined to impose a stay on the federal enforcement record.
The federal death penalty law requires that executions be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence is imposed”. Mr. Bernard and Mr. Bourgeois ‘lawyers alleged that their clients’ planned executions did not meet this requirement.
Both were convicted in Texas. State law there requires at least 91 days’ notice after the execution is scheduled, but Mr Bernard got only 55 days and Mr Bourgeois only 21 – a violation of federal law, their defense teams argued.
After the appellate court rejected the inmates ‘request on the case on Thursday, Mr Bourgeois’ legal team declined to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Shawn Nolan, his attorney, said the court recently refused to open litigation over the method of execution.
The next federal death row inmate to die is Lisa M. Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row. Her execution is scheduled for January 12th. The Trump administration plans to kill three inmates next month before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office. Mr Biden has said he will work to end the federal death penalty.