A Louisiana man who molested, tortured and beat to death his 2-year-old daughter was put to death Friday night, becoming the 10th federal inmate executed this year — the most ever in a single year. Alfred Bourgeois, 56, was pronounced dead after getting a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was the second federal execution in as many days.
Since resuming federal executions this summer after a 17-year hiatus, the Trump administration has been rushing through executions. Three more are scheduled before presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden is to take office on Jan. 20.
The American Constitution Society called the Trump administration carrying out executions during the transition period, “an affront to the American people.”
“The shocking speed with which President Trump and Attorney General [William] 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 former Sen. Russ Feingold, who heads the liberal advocacy group.
“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.”
Lawyers for Bourgeois asked the Supreme Court to halt his execution saying it was unconstitutional because of his intellectual disability. The court rejected the request late Friday with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting.
The dissenting justices noted that tools for assessing an inmate’s mental capacity have changed since Bourgeois was convicted in 2004.
“While a prisoner’s intellectual disability may not change, the medical standards used to assess that disability constantly evolve as the scientific community’s understanding grows,” they wrote.
Bourgeois, a former truck driver, has spent over a decade on death row after murdering his 2-year-old daughter, Jakaren Harrison, while making a delivery to the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Bourgeois repeatedly slammed his daughter’s head into a windshield and dashboard after becoming enraged that she tipped over her potty trainer, according to the Justice Department.
He was also said to have punched the girl in the face, whipped her with an electrical cord, and burned her foot with a cigarette lighter. Courts ruled that Bourgeois had also sexually abused his daughter.
The child was placed on life support before dying at a hospital in 2002.
A Justice Department press release earlier this year said Bourgeois and the other inmates set to be executed committed “staggeringly brutal murders.”
Bourgeois’ lawyers maintained that their client was intellectually disabled with an IQ between 70 and 75, as proven by tests and testimony from his family. They have also criticized his former lawyers for not presenting such evidence at trial.
Victor J. Abreu, an attorney for Bourgeois, called his client’s execution unconstitutional because of the ban on putting intellectually disabled people to death.
“It is shameful that the government executed Mr. Bourgeois without fair consideration of his intellectual disability,” he said in a statement. “The fact that he was executed without this review taking place — even though he is categorically ineligible for the death penalty — shows just why the government’s haste to execute so many people, in the midst of a pandemic and during a lame-duck presidency, is simply unconscionable.”
The family of Jakaren Harrison’s mother said Bourgeois should have been put to death sooner.
“Jakaren lost her life brutally to a monster who lived for 18 years after the crime,” they said in a statement. “A child should not have to endure what she did then. None of us could have imagined that she would return from a summer visit in a casket.”
“Now we can start the process of healing. It should not have taken 18 years for us to receive justice for our angel. She will forever be loved and missed. We love you, Jaja.”
On Thursday, Brandon Bernard was executed for his role in the 1999 murder of a Texas youth pastor and his wife.
Bernard’s execution moved forward despite pleas from Kim Kardashian West and Democratic lawmakers, who said his sentence should be commuted to life in prison because of new evidence.
He also died by lethal injection at the Terre Haute prison.