STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Waiting to Die: Alfred Bourgeois

News 10's Sarah Lehman served as a media witness for the federal execution of Alfred Bourgeois.

Posted: Dec 11, 2020 11:44 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2020 6:44 AM

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. 

It read: 

"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!" 

Case Background: 

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.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 42°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 45°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 41°
Paris
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 45°
Mattoon/Charleston
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 43°
Terre Haute
Mostly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 42°
Terre Haute
Mostly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 42°
Sunny with a Cold Wind
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

The wetlands bill is headed to Holcomb's desk

Image

Business "sews" it's roots deeper during pandemic

Image

Thursday Morning Weather Update

Image

Northview golf

Image

ISU Soccer

Image

Caitlyn Newton

Image

ISU Baseball

Image

National Public Safety Telecommunicators week honors 911 dispatchers

Image

Terre Haute is one of two cities in the nation designated a 'Runner Friendly Community'

Image

Registration is now open for YMCA summer camps

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1288844

Reported Deaths: 23865
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook5163999792
DuPage855231244
Will70961955
Lake64047962
Kane54919750
Winnebago30606457
Madison29676513
St. Clair27035500
McHenry26618277
Peoria20652277
Champaign19604136
Sangamon17522229
McLean16577169
Tazewell15617253
Rock Island14137303
Kankakee13369196
Kendall1216290
LaSalle11634228
Macon10130189
DeKalb9120118
Vermilion9003125
Adams8141116
Williamson7179125
Whiteside6738162
Boone630871
Ogle569578
Clinton569390
Grundy557971
Coles549294
Knox5258136
Jackson483363
Henry467261
Effingham466471
Macoupin456681
Livingston455083
Stephenson446379
Marion4379114
Woodford432962
Franklin431470
Monroe430190
Jefferson4129118
Randolph408384
Lee391449
Morgan373979
Montgomery363772
Logan359856
Fulton357250
Bureau351279
Christian348971
Perry312959
Fayette312754
Iroquois288964
Jersey260448
Douglas254135
McDonough252742
Saline248053
Lawrence238625
Shelby224137
Union222840
Crawford208825
Bond196024
Cass194424
Pike175551
Clark175032
Jo Daviess174624
Warren172646
Wayne172451
Hancock171730
Richland170840
Carroll169436
Ford168346
White166226
Edgar165839
Washington162525
Moultrie156025
Clay147042
Greene142032
Piatt141014
Mason139941
Johnson138614
De Witt136823
Mercer134633
Wabash134112
Massac130939
Cumberland127819
Menard117511
Jasper114017
Marshall96617
Hamilton81815
Schuyler6975
Brown6846
Pulaski6787
Stark60123
Edwards54912
Henderson51914
Calhoun5072
Scott4671
Alexander46210
Gallatin4534
Putnam4403
Hardin36512
Pope3053
Out of IL10
Unassigned02295

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 701971

Reported Deaths: 13187
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion958051716
Lake51105939
Allen38867670
Hamilton34212404
St. Joseph33638539
Elkhart27021431
Vanderburgh22016393
Tippecanoe21602212
Johnson17408373
Porter17157297
Hendricks16711310
Clark12640190
Madison12287337
Vigo12139244
Monroe11336166
LaPorte10760204
Delaware10288184
Howard9606211
Kosciusko9051113
Hancock7922139
Bartholomew7839153
Warrick7671155
Floyd7533176
Wayne6871198
Grant6755168
Boone6517100
Morgan6362138
Dubois6068117
Marshall5743108
Dearborn566975
Cass5668102
Henry5558100
Noble536983
Jackson491869
Shelby476895
Lawrence4324118
Gibson426889
Harrison426070
Montgomery416286
Clinton415053
DeKalb405483
Huntington376480
Whitley374939
Miami371365
Knox364889
Steuben361357
Putnam351760
Wabash345877
Jasper344846
Adams337652
Ripley333268
Jefferson310779
White307154
Daviess288699
Wells284780
Decatur278592
Fayette276962
Greene269985
Posey268133
Scott259853
Clay252044
LaGrange250970
Randolph234380
Washington230329
Spencer227431
Jennings224447
Fountain207445
Sullivan207342
Starke201152
Owen191456
Fulton190439
Jay185529
Carroll185220
Perry179136
Orange176253
Rush170224
Vermillion165643
Franklin165135
Tipton160843
Parke143716
Blackford132631
Pike130034
Pulaski112945
Newton102834
Brown99340
Crawford96914
Benton95613
Martin82215
Warren78715
Switzerland7698
Union69510
Ohio55511
Unassigned0405