The Justice Department has scheduled three more federal executions a day after the Bureau of Prisons carried out the eighth federal execution this year.
In a court filing on 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 2 1/2-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 head with a baseball bat.
Johnson was one of three crack cocaine dealers convicted in a string of murders.
Prosecutors said he killed seven people 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 the same drug gang, are also on death row.
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 low intelligence that he can’t function in society.
But Johnson’s lawyers argue that “no jury or court has ever listened to the evidence at a hearing to decide if he has intellectual disability.”
Higgs was convicted of ordering the 1996 murders of three women, Tamika Black, Mishann Chinn and Tanji Jackson, at a federal wildlife center 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.
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.
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