Justice for Alfred Bourgeois

Alfred, Bethany, and her sisters at her graduation

On December 11, 2020, Alfred Bourgeois was one among the 13 inmates executed by the United States Federal Government during the Trump Administration’s Rush to Kill. Although he  proclaimed his innocence throughout his entire 18-year prison sentence, he was accused of 3 horrible crimes —all of which should have been proven untrue with the forensic evidence available at the time.

The first accusation was the rape and molestation of Alfred’s 2-year-old daughter, Ja’karenn Gunter. When Ja’karenn was hospitalized, a physician along with a sexual abuse nurse, examined her and determined that there were no signs of sexual abuse. This conclusion was confirmed during the autopsy. To allege rape, the prosecution used a forensic test, known as a p30 test meant to detect a specific antigen found in semen. At the time, the prosecution believed the prostate-specific antigen was only found in males. They were incorrect, making a fatal error by not realizing this antigen is found in females as well. All of the FBI’s currently accepted indicators for the presence of semen were negative in Alfred Bourgeois’ case, proving rape had not occurred. The FBI has since abandoned the p30 test as incapable of reliably detecting semen.

The second accusation was that Alfred Bourgeois tortured and abused Ja’karenn, leading to the date of her death on June 27, 2002. However, Ja’karenn’s autopsy showed no such injuries. In November 2020, the physician who testified against Alfred Bourgeois during his 2004 trial, stated that she may have made an error, 18.5 years later. In recent communications following the review of this case, the Government’s forensic pathologist exhibited hesitancy about the conclusions she had reached at the time of trial related to the cause of death, and a willingness to consider the opinion of another neuropathologist. The extensive scientific evidence, supported by the review of additional experts, indicates that Ja’karenn’s death was caused by severe dehydration resulting from the ingestion of large amounts of seawater during a beach trip. Although attempts were made to hydrate Ja’karenn with fluids, Hypernatremia had already taken effect, eventually leading to a brain aneurysm.

At trial, a physician zoomed in on a photo of the brain aneurysm caused by the hypernatremia using an overhead projector. When he zoomed in on the photos, due to old 2002 technology, the images were distorted. This distortion made it seem like there were 73 injuries to the head based on a single brain aneurysm. This misappropriation of evidence circulated in the media which led to public outrage based on injuries that did not occur to gain public sympathy. Per autopsy reports, the only injuries found on Ja’karenn were a few small abrasions caused by CPR attempts from medical professionals. Several physicians confirmed this.

The third accusation was that Ja’karenn’s death was caused by blunt-force trauma to the head. The Government argued for a death sentence based on its inflammatory narrative that Mr. Bourgeois delivered a fatal blow when he allegedly slammed Ja’karenn’s head against the windshield of his semi-truck. Contrarily, there was not a single piece of medical evidence that demonstrated death was caused by a traumatic head injury. Examples of medical evidence would be a fractured skull. The autopsy report confirmed there was no fracture to Ja’karenn’s skull.

Medical evidence available in 2002 demonstrated that the death was not caused by a traumatic head injury. Alfred’s 6 year-old-daughter at the time, Alfredesha Bourgeois Hytower, initially swore her father was innocent. After extended time with the Prosecution and FBI, she later said she witnessed the alleged blunt-force trauma. Expert neurologists and physicians confirmed there was no physical evidence of  blunt-force trauma.

Alfred and Bethany

Dismally, the corruption didn’t stop there. At Alfred Bourgeois’ 2004 trial, his eldest daughter was eager to testify in her father’s defense but was excluded from the courtroom. Family members were prevented from seeing Alfred during the entire time he was imprisoned, so it was natural for his daughter to be emotional when seeing him in the courtroom. Per Bethany’s account, she began crying as she looked up to see her father giving her a thumbs-up as if to say everything would all be okay.

Bethany recalls seeing the Prosecutor look at her while crying. At that point, the jurors were already in the room, as the lead Prosecutor pointed at Bethany before calling Alfred’s lead defense attorney over. About five minutes later, a court official approached Bethany and escorted her out of the courtroom. She followed them because she believed this was standard protocol to prepare for the trial. Then, the courtroom official instructed her that she was not allowed to enter the courtroom and was no longer allowed to testify. Bethany’s uncle, who was also supposed to testify, was excluded from the courtroom as well. The same happened with her uncle’s wife when she attempted to enter the courtroom. Finally, Bethany asked her boyfriend at the time to enter the courtroom since he was not family. He was just a member of the general public. Nevertheless, the court officials prevented him from going into the courtroom as well. This exclusion did not just occur with family members, it also happened with medical experts, including several neurologists who were going to testify in Alfred’s defense. No reason was provided as to why these exclusions occurred.

Along with the exclusion from the courthouse, Bethany was also prevented from seeing her father for the entire 18.5 years he was incarcerated. The only time she was able to speak with him was for two hours on the day he was murdered by the federal government.

Medical reports, autopsy findings, and witness testimonies from Mr. Bourgeois’ 2004 trial confirm that the crimes he was accused of never took place. This means, that an innocent man was sent to prison, tortured, and kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, 7 days a week, for his entire prison sentence. Due to a wrongful conviction and almost 2 decades of solitary confinement, Mr. Bourgeois became intellectually disabled. Even with this intellectual disability, a plethora of forensic evidence proving innocence, and an approved “Stay of Execution”, Mr. Bourgeois was still executed by the Trump Administration. Legally, a 90 Day reprieve should have been adhered to; but was ignored. 

Alfred Bourgeois was an innocent man, who did not deserve the treatment he received. His death was gravely unjust. He was convinced that his life would be spared since all evidence proved his innocence. The legal system failed Mr. Bourgeois and killed an innocent man.

For more information please visit https://www.alfredbourgeois.com/.

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