A Louisiana dad who sexually abused, tortured and beat his own 2-year-old daughter to death is scheduled to be executed Friday evening, marking the second federal execution in as many days and one of the first during a president’s lame-duck period in over a century.
Alfred Bourgeois, 56, was convicted of capital murder in 2004 for killing the toddler two years earlier in a brutal attack at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station in south Texas. His lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution, calling it unconstitutional because of the man’s intellectual disability.
But the attorneys’ request for a stay was unlikely to be granted at this stage. The high court on Thursday denied a request to halt the execution of another federal inmate, Brandon Bernard, despite numerous pleas from activists, human rights organizations and even celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
Bernard, 40, received a lethal injection at a federal facility in Terre Haute, Indiana, just before 9:30 p.m. He was the first federal inmate put to death during a White House transition since Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the 1890s.
Bourgeois is among four additional prisoners set to be executed before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment.
Friday’s execution, scheduled for 6 p.m., has not drawn as much outrage as did the Bernard case even as defense lawyers argue that Bourgeois should not be eligible for the death penalty.
The former truck driver, who had temporary custody of his daughter, physically and emotionally abused the child, whipped her with an electrical cord, burned her foot with a cigarette lighter and molested her multiple times before he repeatedly slammed the back of her head into the window and dashboard of his truck during a fatal attack in July 2002, according to prosecutors.
A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas found him guilty and unanimously recommended the death sentence, which the court imposed. The conviction and sentence were later affirmed on appeal.
Bourgeois’ lawyers say he has severe mental disabilities that have been proven by IQ tests and testimony by his family, and they have criticized the man’s former attorneys for not bringing such evidence to the trial. The current defense team also argues that the federal government has violated his rights by scheduling the execution only 55 days in advance, far below the 91 days’ notice required by law, according to the Equal Justice Initiative.
The American Constitution Society described the Trump administration’s rush to carry out multiple executions during a lame-duck period as “obscene.”
“The shocking speed with which President Trump and Attorney General Barr have pursued executions is captured by one simple fact: They have killed more people in less than five months than the federal government had previously executed, in total, since 1953,” said Russ Feingold, the progressive group’s president.
“His macabre and frenzied race to maximize the death toll is an affront to the American people, and comes as public support for the death penalty, in the U.S. and around the world, has reached a near historic nadir,” Feingold said in a statement.
Barr has previously said that authorities “owe it to the victims” and their families to carry out the sentences imposed by the judicial system.