United States to Execute Last Convict

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Washington | The American federal authorities are preparing to carry out their tenth and last execution of 2020 on Friday, that of Alfred Bourgeois, an African-American convicted of the murder of his 2-year-old daughter.

This 55-year-old former truck driver must receive a lethal injection in the Terre-Haute penitentiary, in Indiana, where another federal convict, Brandon Bernard, had already been executed the day before.

After a paternity test, he had agreed to take his young daughter with him in his truck for part of the summer of 2002, but had subjected her to a lot of ill-treatment. He had ended up smashing her skull on the windshield.

The crime having taken place on a military base where he was making a delivery, he was tried by a federal court and sentenced in 2004 to death.

He had remained on death row ever since, with the United States not carrying out any federal executions from 2003, in particular because of questions about the legality of the drugs used in injections.

In July, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump’s administration returned to the practice, however, although states have postponed their executions so as not to expose prison staff or witnesses to the virus.

Seven federal executions took place ahead of the November 3 presidential election.

Democrat Joe Biden, who has vowed to work with Congress to put a definitive end to federal executions, won the ballot – something the Republican refuses to acknowledge – and takes office on January 20.

Traditionally, outgoing presidents withhold executions during the interim period, but Justice Minister Bill Barr announced six new executions between November and January, including that of Alfred Bourgeois.

His lawyers have asked the United States Supreme Court for a break on the grounds that he suffers from severe mental retardation.

“The jury which condemned Mr. Bourgeois to the death penalty did not know that he had an intellectual handicap because his lawyers had not presented evidence”, pleaded his new lawyer, Me Victor Abreu.

If the high court does not grant him a stay, he will be the 17th convict executed in the United States in 2020, a historic low linked to the pause observed in the States.

It will also be the tenth executed by the federal government, the highest in over a century.

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