Tenth man put to death in US since Trump restarted federal executions
US president first in 130 years to execute prisoners between election and end of term
The federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, where Bourgeois was executed. File photograph: AP Photo/Michael Conroy/AP Photo
The Trump administration continued its unprecedented series of post-election federal executions by putting to death a Louisiana truck driver who severely abused and then killed his two-year-old daughter in 2002.
His lawyers argued Bourgeois had an IQ that put 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”.
In his last words, Bourgeois – found to have killed his daughter by slamming her head against a truck’s windows and dashboard – offered no apology and instead struck a deeply defiant tone, insisting he neither killed nor sexually abused the girl.
“I ask God to forgive all those who plotted and schemed against me, and planted false evidence,” he said, adding: “I did not commit this crime.”
Bourgeois was the 10th federal death-row inmate put to death since federal executions resumed under US 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, a Republican, to get executions in before the January 20th inauguration of Joe Biden, who has expressed opposition to 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 cut the required notice period from 90 days, his lawyer Shawn Nolan said.
“It is remarkable. To rush these executions during the pandemic and everything else, makes absolutely no sense,” he 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 reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, appealed to Mr Trump to commute Bernard’s sentence to life in prison, citing, among other things, his youth at the time and the remorse he has expressed over years. – AP