December 3rd, 2020

Justice Dept. plans 3 more executions in lame-duck period


By Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press on November 20, 2020.

FILE - This Aug. 28, 2020, file photo shows the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Ind. Orlando Hall, a federal inmate who killed a Texas teenage, is set to be executed at the prison on Thursday, Nov. 19. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has scheduled three more federal executions during the lame-duck period before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, including two just days before his inauguration.

The announcement comes a day after the federal Bureau of Prisons carried out the eighth federal execution this year after a 17-year hiatus, and it is likely to increase pressure on Biden to take a public stance on whether his administration would continue to schedule executions once he is sworn in. Advocacy groups have called on the Trump administration to pause all executions until Biden takes office.

Representatives for the Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

In a court filing Friday night, the Justice Department said it was scheduling the executions of Alfred Bourgeois for Dec. 11 and Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs for Jan. 14 and 15. Two other executions had already been scheduled for this year, including the first woman scheduled to be executed by the federal government in about six decades – though on Thursday, a federal judge ruled that execution could not proceed before the end of the year.

Prosecutors say Bourgeois tortured, sexually molested, and then beat his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to death. Court records say Bourgeois repeatedly beat the young girl and punched her in the face, whipped her with an electrical cord and beat her with a belt so hard that it broke. He also allegedly burned her feet with a cigarette lighter and hit her in the head with a baseball bat until her head swelled.

Johnson was one of three crack cocaine dealers convicted in a string of murders. Prosecutors said he killed seven people in in an attempt to expand the territory of a Richmond, Virginia, gang and silence informants. His co-defendants James H. Roane Jr. and Richard Tipton, members of same drug gang, are also on death row.

Higgs was convicted of ordering the 1996 murders of three women, Tamika Black, Mishann Chinn and Tanji Jackson, at a federal wildlife centre near Beltsville, Maryland. Prosecutors say Higgs and two others abducted the women after Higgs became enraged because one of the women rebuffed his advances at party.

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