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U.S. Attorney General Schedules 3 More Federal Executions

United States Penitentiary

(Adam Pinsker, WFIU/WTIU News)

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr has directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule execution dates for three inmates incarcerated on federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Alfred Bourgeois will be executed Dec. 11. Corey Johnson’s execution date is set for Jan. 14, 2021. And Dustin Higgs' execution will take place one day later on Jan. 15, five days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

All three condemned men are scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on the grounds of the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute.

Bourgeois, whose original execution date of Jan. 13, 2020 was pushed back due to legal impediments, was convicted in 2004 of murder within a special territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Prosecutors say Bourgeois slammed his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter’s head into the dashboard of his truck, after the child’s training potty tipped over.

Johnson was convicted of murdering seven people in early 1992 who he perceived as threats to his drug trafficking enterprise in Richmond, Virginia.

According to a Department of Justice statement, Johnson shot one of his victims to death after he failed to pay for crack cocaine and also murdered the victim’s sister and male acquaintance. Johnson was supposed to be executed in May 2006, but a preliminary injunction prevented it from taking place.

A federal court in Maryland sentenced Higgs to death in 2000 for kidnapping and killing three women at the Patuxent National Forest in 1996.

Prosecutors say Higgs picked the women up in Washington, D.C., and brought them to his home in Laurel, Maryland. He became enraged when one of the victims rebuffed his advances.

Johnson’s lawyers argue their client is intellectually disabled, and thus it would be unconstitutional to put him to death. The Supreme Court has held that it is unlawful to execute a person who is of such a low intelligence that they can’t function in society.

But they argue that “no jury or court has ever listened to the evidence at a hearing to decide if he has intellectual disability.”

“We are not aware of any other federal death penalty prisoner who has never had a single evidentiary hearing at which he could present his intellectual disability evidence. The government should not proceed with Mr. Johnson’s execution in the absence of a thorough and fair opportunity for him to present this evidence,” the lawyers, Ronald J. Tabak and Donald P. Salzman, said in a statement.

Higgs’ attorney, Sean Nolan, said his client didn’t kill anyone, had ineffective attorneys and didn’t deserve the death penalty. Higgs’ co-defendant, who prosecutors said carried out the killings, was not sentenced to death and Nolan said it is “arbitrary and inequitable to punish Mr. Higgs more severely than the person who committed the murders.”

“Mr. Higgs deserves clemency because of the unfair sentencing disparity ... and because, despite the tragedy and hardship of his early life, he has been a model prisoner and is an active parent who is essential to the well-being of his son,” Nolan said.

READ MORE: U.S. Carries Out 8th Federal Execution This Year

On Nov. 19, Orlando Hall became the eighth federal inmate executed since the Trump administration resumed federal executions in July. 

Another death row inmate, Brandon Bernard, is scheduled to be executed Dec. 10 for his role in the murder of two youth pastors in 1999 near Ft. Hood in Texas.

Bernard’s co-defendant Christopher Vialva was executed Sept. 24. 

Lisa Montgomery, who is being held at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Texas, was supposed to be executed Dec. 8, but a judge issued a stay after Montgomery’s attorneys fell ill from COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

This story has been updated. 

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