Trump administration plans 2nd execution in per week

By Michael Tarm
The Associated Press

TERRE HAUTE – The Trump administration plans to continue its unprecedented streak of post-election executions on Friday by killing a Louisiana truck driver who severely abused his 2-year-old daughter for weeks in 2002, then killed her by killing hers Head against it hit the window and dashboard of a truck.

56-year-old Alfred Bourgeois’s lawyers say he has an IQ that puts him in the mentally disabled category and they claim he shouldn’t be eligible for the death penalty under federal law.

Bourgeois would be the 10th federal death row inmate killed since federal executions resumed under President Donald Trump in July after a 17-year hiatus. He would be the second person to be executed in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana this week. Three more executions are planned for January.

The Series of executions after election day, The first at the end of November is the first time in over 130 years that federal executions have taken place during a time of lame ducks.

Bourgeois lawyers claim that the Republican president’s apparent rush to initiate executions before the inauguration of death penalty enemy Joe Biden, a Democrat, on January 20 has deprived her client of the right to pursue his legal rights.

Several appellate courts have concluded that neither evidence nor criminal law relating to intellectual disability supports the claims made by the Bourgeois legal team.

On Thursday, Brandon Bernard was killed for his part in the 1999 murder of an Iowa religious couple after he and other teenage street gang members kidnapped and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley in Texas. Bernard, who was 18 at the time of the murders, was a rare execution of a person who was in his teens when his crime was committed.

Several high-profile personalities, including reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, appealed to Trump to commute Bernard’s sentence to life imprisonment, citing, among other things, Bernard’s youth at the time and the remorse he expressed over the years.

In Bourgeois’ case, the crimes stand out as particularly brutal because they concerned his young daughter.

According to court records, following a paternity lawsuit filed by a Texas woman in 2002, he was temporarily given custody of the child, referred to as “JG” in court records. Bourgeois was living in Louisiana with his wife and their two children at the time.

Over the next month, Bourgeois whipped the girl with a power cord, burned her feet with a cigarette lighter, and hit her head so hard with a plastic baseball bat that her head swelled – and then refused to seek medical treatment for her , Court documents say. Prosecutors also said he sexually abused her.

Her toilet training reportedly angered Bourgeois and he sometimes forced her to sleep in a training toilet.

When he was taking the toddler, he killed her on a truck to Corpus Christi, Texas. Annoyed again by her toilet training, he grabbed her shoulders in the truck and hit her head four times against the windows and dashboard, according to court records. She died of brain injuries in a hospital the next day.

Following his conviction in a federal court in South Texas in 2004, a judge denied claims based on his alleged intellectual disability, ruling that he was not diagnosed until after his death sentence.

“Up to this point the bourgeois had led a life that was broadly free of gross intellectual deficiencies,” the court said.

Lawyers argued that such results were based on misunderstandings about disability. They said Bourgeois ran tests that showed his IQ was around 70, well below average, and that his childhood story backed up their claims of his disability.

As Bernard lay on a stretcher Thursday night before he received the lethal injection, he made his last words to the family of the couple he was involved in, speaking with striking calm for someone who knew he was about to to die.

“I’m sorry,” he said, lifting his head and looking at the windows of the witness room. “Those are the only words I can say that fully capture how I feel now and how I felt that day.”

Regarding his role in the murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley, he said, “I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t.”

The mother of Todd Bagley, Georgia, spoke to reporters within 30 minutes of the execution and said she would like to thank Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and other Justice Department officials for helping bring about the closure of the Bagley family.

But she also got emotional when she talked about the apologies from Bernard before his death on Thursday and from an accomplice, Christopher Vialva Ringleader of the group that shot the Bagleys in the head before the car was burned. He was executed in September.

“The apology and remorse … have helped me a lot in healing my heart,” she said, started crying and then put herself back together. “I can say a lot: I forgive them.”

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