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U.S. government carries out final execution of the year

An exterior view of the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., where Alfred Bourgeois was executed Friday. File Photo by Mark Cowan/UPI
An exterior view of the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., where Alfred Bourgeois was executed Friday. File Photo by Mark Cowan/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. government on Friday carried out its last execution of the year, that of a man convicted of killing his 2-year-old daughter nearly two decades ago.

Alfred Bourgeois, 55, died by lethal injection shortly after 8 p.m. at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. The execution came about an hour after the U>S. Supreme Court denied his request for a stay.

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"Tonight, the United States killed a man with intellectual disability in spite of clear directives from the U.S. Supreme Court and federal laws that prohibited it," attorney Victor Abreu said.

"Alfred Bourgeois suffered from this disability his entire life, but he was never given the opportunity to present the clear evidence of his intellectual disability to a fair court. Instead, a court rejected his claim based on damaging and incorrect stereotypes about what intellectual disability looks like instead of the science-based standards that define the diagnosis."

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The U.S. government on Friday plans to execute a man convicted of killing his 2-year-old daughter nearly two decades ago.

Alfred Bourgeois, 55, is set to receive a lethal injection at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. The Supreme Court on Friday evening denied his request for a stay.

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His attorneys said Bourgeois' execution would be unconstitutional because he is intellectually disabled and can't understand his punishment. They submitted evidence of IQ test scores of 70 and 75, as well as assessments by experts.

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The Eighth Amendment bans executing people with such impairments as cruel and usual punishment.

Bourgeois was among the first inmates slated for death last year when Attorney General William Barr announced the resumption of federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. A federal judge stayed his execution in March, saying his lawyer made a strong case for his intellectual disability.

Bourgeois was convicted in 2004 of capital murder for the 2002 death of his daughter in Corpus Christi, Texas. Prosecutors said the girl died when Bourgeois became angry with her for turning over her potty training chair in the cab of his 18-wheeler and slammed her head into the vehicle's window.

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Investigators said he regularly physically and sexually abused the toddler before her death. Bourgeois said he was innocent of the child's death and blamed her mother.

Bourgeois was the 10th federal death row inmate to be put to death this year.

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The last time a single presidential administration held that many executions was under President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. The 34th president executed 10 people -- including the Rosenbergs, who were convicted of espionage -- over a seven-year period.

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The U.S. Justice Department executed Brandon Bernard on Thursday and plans to hold three more executions before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. Orlando Hall was executed Nov. 19, more than a week after Biden was projected to win the presidency.

A group of anti-death penalty advocates protested the resumption of federal executions Thursday in a series of demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and Terre Haute. Death Penalty Action spokeswoman Allison Cohen told UPI that activists were especially concerned that executions were taking place after Trump lost his re-election bid.

Hall's execution last month was the first to happen during the transition of a presidency since 1889 under the administration of President Grover Cleveland.

"It's crazy that we are executing our federal death row prisoners during the lame-duck session," Cohen said, calling the effort "politically motivated.



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