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Justice Dept. plans three extra executions in lame-duck interval

Justice Dept. plans three extra executions in lame-duck interval

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has scheduled three extra federal executions through the lame-duck interval earlier than President-elect Joe Biden takes workplace, together with two simply days earlier than his inauguration.

The announcement comes a day after the federal Bureau of Prisons carried out the eighth federal execution this yr after a 17-year hiatus, and it’s prone to enhance strain on Biden to take a public stance on whether or not his administration would proceed to schedule executions as soon as he’s sworn in. Advocacy teams have known as on the Trump administration to pause all executions till Biden takes workplace.

Representatives for the Biden transition staff didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Friday evening.

In a courtroom submitting Friday evening, the Justice Department mentioned it was scheduling the executions of Alfred Bourgeois for Dec. 11 and Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs for Jan. 14 and 15. Two different executions had already been scheduled for this yr, together with the primary girl scheduled to be executed by the federal authorities in about six many years — although on Thursday, a federal decide dominated that execution couldn’t proceed earlier than the tip of the yr.

Prosecutors say Bourgeois tortured, sexually molested, after which beat his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to demise. Court information say Bourgeois repeatedly beat the younger woman and punched her within the face, whipped her with {an electrical} twine and beat her with a belt so onerous that it broke. He additionally allegedly burned her toes with a cigarette lighter and hit her within the head with a baseball bat till her head swelled.

Johnson was one in all three crack cocaine sellers convicted in a string of murders. Prosecutors mentioned he killed seven folks in in an try and increase the territory of a Richmond, Virginia, gang and silence informants. His co-defendants James H. Roane Jr. and Richard Tipton, members of identical drug gang, are additionally on demise row.

Johnson’s attorneys argue their shopper is intellectually disabled, and thus it will be unconstitutional to place him to demise. The Supreme Court has held that it’s illegal to execute an individual who’s of such a low intelligence that they will’t perform 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 attorneys, Ronald J. Tabak and Donald P. Salzman, mentioned in an announcement.

Higgs was convicted of ordering the 1996 murders of three girls, Tamika Black, Mishann Chinn and Tanji Jackson, at a federal wildlife middle close to Beltsville, Maryland. Prosecutors say Higgs and two others kidnapped the ladies after Higgs grew to become enraged as a result of one of many girls rebuffed his advances at social gathering.

Higgs’ lawyer, Sean Nolan, mentioned his shopper didn’t kill anybody, had ineffective attorneys and didn’t deserve the demise penalty. Higgs’ co-defendant, who prosecutors mentioned carried out the killings, was not sentenced to demise and Nolan mentioned it’s “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 mentioned.

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