TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The Trump administration plans to continue federal executions Friday by putting to death a Louisiana truck driver who severely abused his 2-year-old daughter for weeks in 2002, then killed her by slamming her head against a truck’s windows and dashboard.
Lawyers for 56-year-old Alfred Bourgeois argue he has an IQ that puts him in the intellectually disabled category, saying that should have made him ineligible for the death penalty under federal law.
Bourgeois would be the 10th federal death-row inmate put to death since federal executions resumed under President Donald Trump in July after a 17-year hiatus. He would be the second person executed this week at a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Three more executions are 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.
Several appeals courts have concluded that neither evidence nor criminal law on intellectual disability support the claims by Bourgeois’ 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 Trump to commute Bernard’s sentence to life in prison, citing, among other things, Bernard’s youth at the time and the remorse he has expressed over years.
In Bourgeois’ case, the crimes stand out as particularly brutal because they involved his young daughter.
According to court filings, he gained temporary custody of the child, referred to in court papers only as “JG,” after a 2002 paternity suit from a Texas woman. Bourgeois was living in Louisiana with his wife and their two children.
Over the next month, Bourgeois whipped the girl with an electrical cord, burned her feet with a cigarette lighter and hit her in the head with a plastic baseball bat so hard that her head swelled — then refused to seek medical treatment for her, court documents say. Prosecutors also said he sexually abused her.
Her toilet training allegedly enraged Bourgeois and he would sometimes force her to sleep on a training toilet.
It was during a trucking run to Corpus Christi, Texas, that he ended up killing the toddler. Again angered by her toilet training, he grabbed her inside the truck by her shoulders and slammed her head on the windows and dashboard four times, court filings say.
When the girl lost consciousness, Bourgeois’ wife pleaded for him to get help and he told her to tell first responders that she was hurt falling from the truck. She died the next day in a hospital of brain injuries.
After his 2004 conviction, a judge rejected claims stemming from his alleged intellectual disability, noting he did not receive a diagnosis until after he was sentenced to death.
“Up to that point, Bourgeois had lived a life which, in broad outlines, did not manifest gross intellectual deficiencies,” the court said.
Attorneys argued that finding was based on misunderstandings about such disabilities. They said Bourgeois had tests that demonstrated his IQ was around 70, well below average, and that his childhood history buttressed their claims.