Alfred Bourgeois, a LaPlace man convicted of murdering his 2-year-old daughter, will be one of the first federal inmates to be executed in more than 15 years, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Bourgeois is one of five federal death row inmates who Attorney General William Barr on Thursday said would be among the first executed since 2003.
The execution is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2020.
He was convicted in the 2002 death of his daughter, who was killed at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Prosecutors in the case said there were signs of physical and sexual abuse, as well as torture.
Bourgeois, a truck driver, was arrested after an autopsy determined that his story about the child's death was false, according to L'Observateur.
He told investigators the infant had fallen 5 feet out of his commercial truck onto the pavement at the Naval Air Station.
According to the newspaper report from the trial, U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby said this was determined to be “wholly inconsistent with the massive head injuries the child had received and the obvious signs of physical abuse readily evident about the child’s body.”
An 11-hour autopsy determined the cause of death was severe head trauma. The autopsy also found more than 300 injury marks, including whip marks, healed scars, nonspecific and patterned contusions, abrasions or excoriations, healing ulcerations, lacerations and two bite marks on her body.
A jury took fewer than two hours to convict Bourgeois. The same jury sentenced him to death.
In 2014, following a botched state execution in Oklahoma, then-President Barack Obama directed the department to conduct a broad review of capital punishment and issues surrounding lethal injection drugs. It remains unclear today what came of that review and whether it will change the way the federal government carries out executions.
That review has been completed and the executions can continue, the department said.
Executions on the federal level have been rare.
The government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988, the most recent of which occurred in 2003 when Louis Jones was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young female soldier.
"Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people's representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President," Barr said in a news release. "The Justice Department upholds the rule of law and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system."
Capital punishment has emerged as a flashpoint in the Democratic presidential primary, with former Vice President Joe Biden this week shifting to call for the elimination of the federal death penalty after years of supporting it.
Biden's criminal justice plan also would encourage states to follow the federal government in ending the death penalty, 25 years after he helped pass a tough crime bill that expanded capital punishment for more potential offenses.
The lone Democratic White House hopeful who has publicly supported preserving capital punishment in certain circumstances is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who has said he would leave it open as an option for major crimes such as terrorism.