VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) -- The second federal death row inmate in just 24 hours took his last breath Friday night.
Alfred Bourgeois was executed in the Terre Haute Federal Prison on Friday, December 11th at 8:21 p.m.
I was a media witness for this execution. This is now the 3rd execution I have witnessed in Terre Haute.
His execution was set for 6 p.m. Friday night. But, Bourgeois' legal team was trying to push litigation through the Supreme Court. They were arguing he is intellectually disabled and should not be put to death because of that.
The Supreme Court ultimately denied the stay.
At around 7 p.m. a Bureau of Prisons federal employee told the 5 other media witnesses and me that we would be "moving soon". This was the first and only piece of information we got regarding when the execution might take place.
We loaded into 2 separate white vans and headed toward the security screening process for witnesses. Each time, this process reminds me of going through TSA at the airport. You take off your jackets, jewelry, belts, glasses, and shoes and place them in a gray bin. They are placed on a conveyor belt to go through an x-ray machine. Then, you go through a full-body scan. The whole process takes each person anywhere from 3-5 minutes.
Afterward, we are loaded back into the same white vans and, unlike Brandon Bernards execution where it was delayed again and we were taken back to the briefing room, we headed toward the execution chambers.
We waited in the vans for about 20 minutes while other witnesses were led inside the chambers.
At around 7:40 the 6 media witnesses and federal employees filed into the media room where we waited for the blinds to open up.
The yellowish-green blinds slowly rolled up and in the middle of the green-tiled room, strapped to the gurney, with a sheet pulled up to his chest was Alfred Bourgeois.
In the room with him was a U.S. Marshal, two federal employees, and what we believe is a spiritual advisor.
When the blinds opened the first thing I saw was Bourgeois look around the room, and to his left, or right, he shot someone a thumbs-up.
That's when the man standing directly to his left started the process.
Bourgeois was asked if he had any final words. He shot a glance into the media room and said "yes I do."
In his final statement, he offered no apology.
Again, media witnesses do not get a copy of what is said. So, we have to try and write everything down as it is being said.
This is what I heard:
"In no form of fashion did murder, rape, or sexually molest my daughter or anyone else in my whole life. I did not commit this crime. I love my kids with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. (At this point he names off his children, but I was not able to get their names.) I confess and repent to God all I have ever said and done against your will. I ask for forgiveness for all those who planted and plotted evidence in my home and truck. For they know not what they did. God, I love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I pray you welcome me into your kingdom. As I close my eyes may I enter into your hands and kingdom."
I remember he kept repeating parts of his final statement. Multiple times he asked for forgiveness for "those who planned and plotted against him." And he kept repeating prayers and pleas to God to welcome him into his kingdom.
It sounded as if he was rambling. Possibly nervous for what was about to happen, as you would assume someone in his position would be.
After his final statement, the U.S. Marshal picked up a black phone that hangs on the wall. Asking if there are any impediments to this execution. He hung up the phone and with the click, he said "there are no impediments to this execution."
At around 7:50 the lethal injection started. At this point, Bourgeois was looking around the room. He kept looking into the room we were in.
He shot another thumbs-up to someone on his left.
A few seconds in, I could see his breathing get more rapid and sporadic. The blue sheet was moving up in down with his chest as he was struggling to catch his breath.
The microphone in the room is turned off at this point, but similar to Bernard, Bourgeois opened his mouth wide, almost as if he was yelling. Throughout the time, his eyebrows kept furrowing and his face would coil into a grimace. His breathing then became more sporadic.
Then, his eyes closed, his head somewhat tilted back on the gurney and his mouth opened just slightly.
Now, after watching 3 executions is surprises me every time how each one reacts differently while their body fills with the poison.
After the last of his breath left his body I kept my eye on my watch. It took a little more than 10 minutes before the Vigo County Coroner finally came into the room. He checked Bourgeois' pulse and heartbeat for what seemed like a long time.
He placed his hand on Bourgeois' chest, put his stethoscope back around his neck, and left the room.
About a minute later we heard, "Time of death, 8:21. That concludes the execution of inmate Bourgeois." Then, the pale yellowish-green blinds slowly lowered.
The media witnesses were loaded back into the vans and taken back to the media briefing room.
When we got outside to load into the vans it was pouring rain. Which surprised me and brought me swiftly back to where I was.
Inside the execution chamber, it feels as if you are somewhere else. I lose track of anything that is going on outside of the execution.
Partially, because for the last two hours we have been at the mercy of the Federal Prison. I will not say the cliche "time feels like it stops." It is just the opposite. During this time I am hyper-aware of the time, almost down to the second. So, when the cold rain hit my head walking out of the execution chambers it was somewhat of a shock.
When we got back to the briefing room there was a written statement from the victim's family.
"Jakaren lost her life brutally to a monster who lived for 18 years after the crime. A child should not have to endure what she did then. None of us could have imagined that she would return from a summer visit in a casket. Now we can start the process of healing. It should not have taken 18 years for us to receive justice for our angel. She will forever be loved and missed. We love you, JaJa!"
In 2002, Bourgeois took custody of his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Jakaren.
Over the course of the next several months, he systematically tortured, abused, and likely molested, the toddler.
On July 27, 2002, the girl was a passenger in Bourgeois’ truck during delivery to the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station.
While backing his truck up to a loading dock, his daughter tipped over her potty, enraging Bourgeois, who beat her head against the interior of the truck’s cab, inflicting fatal injuries.
On March 16, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas found Bourgeois guilty of murder within the special territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and he was sentenced to death.