US executes second death row inmate in as many days

A second death row inmate has been executed in the US as the Trump administration continues to rush through a series of federal executions.

Former truck driver Alfred Bourgeois, 56, was killed by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Friday.

A day earlier, death row inmate Brandon Bernard was put to death after the US Supreme Court rejected a last-minute request to delay his execution.

Donald Trump reinstates death penalty for federal crimes

Donald Trump reinstates death penalty for federal crimes

The executions are the first of five the Trump administration is rushing through in almost unprecedented fashion before incoming President-elect Joe Biden takes power.

One of these is Lisa Montgomery, a convicted murderer who is the only woman on federal death row and who is due to be executed on 12 January.

The last time executions were carried out during a presidential lame-duck period was during the tenure of the 22nd president Grover Cleveland in the 1890s.

Bourgeois was convicted in 2004 of killing his two-year-old daughter by slamming her head four times against a truck’s windows and dashboard.

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The truck driver gained temporary custody of the child in 2002 and over the next month whipped her with an electrical cord, burned her feet with a cigarette lighter, and hit her in the head with a plastic baseball bat.

Prosecutors also said he sexually abused her.

Executions are being rushed through by the Trump administration
Image:Executions are being rushed through by the Trump administration

He eventually killed the toddler during a trucking run after he became angry about her toilet training.

After the attack, he had told his wife to lie to emergency responders by saying the child was hurt falling from the truck.

One of Bourgeois’ lawyers, Shawn Nolan, said he had taken up drawing in prison and had not been a troublemaker.

He was said to be “praying for redemption” after being given 21 days notice of his execution – much less than the usual 90 days’ notice given.

The lawyers had argued Bourgeois had an intellectual disability that should have made him ineligible for the death penalty under federal law.

Several appeals courts have concluded that neither evidence nor criminal law on intellectual disability support the claims.

The first inmate to be executed, Bernard, was 18 when he took part in the 1999 double murder of an Iowa religious couple, whose bodies he burned in the boot of their car in Texas.

Brandon Bernard during a video in which he apologises to the victims of his crime
Image:Brandon Bernard apologised to his victims’ family shortly before his execution

He told Todd and Stacey Bagley’s family he was sorry shortly before he was put to death.

Defence lawyers had requested an emergency stay and argued in court that Bernard was a low-level member of a youth gang, while five jurors from his trial also pleaded for clemency, saying they regretted not opting for life in prison instead.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West also voiced her concerns and was among those who had asked Mr Trump to stop the execution, saying in a series of recent tweets that Bernard’s “role was minor compared to that of the other teens involved”.

๐Ÿ•Š๐Ÿ•Š๐Ÿ•Š

๐Ÿ•Š๐Ÿ•Š๐Ÿ•Š

Iโ€™m so messed up right now.

They killed Brandon.

He was such a reformed person. So hopeful and positive until the end. More importantly he is sorry, so sorry for the hurt and pain he has caused others.

โ€” Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 11, 2020

“I’m so messed up right now. They killed Brandon,” she tweeted after his death.

“He was such a reformed person. So hopeful and positive until the end. More importantly he is sorry, so sorry for the hurt and pain he has caused others.

“I could go on and on about what an amazing person Brandon was. I do know he left this earth feeling supported and loved and at peace.”

Kim Kardashian speaks alongside Donald Trump during a criminal justice reform event in 2019
Image:Kim Kardashian West speaks alongside Donald Trump during a criminal justice reform event in 2019

One of Bernard’s co-defendants, Christopher Vialva, was put to death in September.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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