US to execute first woman in 70 years: Who is Lisa Montgomery and what is her crime?
The now 52-year-old Montgomery was convicted in 2007 of strangling a pregnant woman to death in the state of Missouri. According to the Department of Justice, she will be executed with a lethal injection in the Terre Haute Jail in the state of Indiana.
The US Justice Department has scheduled the first federal execution of a woman in almost 70 years, setting a December 8 date to put to death Lisa Montgomery, convicted of a 2004 murder.
Montgomery, now 52, had fatally strangled a pregnant woman in Missouri and then sliced open her body, and kidnapped her unborn baby, according to federal authorities. Montgomery will be executed by lethal injection at US Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana, the department said in a statement.
Montgomery is the only woman on the federal government’s death row.
DETAILS OF HER CRIME
In October 2007, a federal jury found Montgomery guilty of one count of kidnapping resulting in death. Federal prosecutors said in December 2004, Montgomery killed Bobbie Jo Stinnett of Skidmore, Missouri, as part of a premeditated murder-kidnap scheme.
According to prosecutors, Montgomery drove from her home in Melvern, Kansas, to Stinnett’s home, purportedly to purchase a puppy. However, once inside the residence, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, until the victim lost consciousness.
Using a kitchen knife, Montgomery cut into Stinnet’s abdomen, causing her to regain consciousness. The two women fought and Montgomery then strangled Stinnett to death. Montgomery then cut the foetus from her womb and tried to pass the baby off as her own. The child was later safely recovered.
Montgomery later confessed to killing Stinnett and abducting her unborn child. A federal jury in Kansas City unanimously recommended a death sentence. The conviction and sentencing were later upheld on appeal.
Kelley Henry -- an assistant federal public defender in Nashville and one of the attorneys who represented Montgomery -- said her client had endured years of physical, sexual and mental abuse by her mother and others, reported The Kansas City Star.
Montgomery suffers from complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and to this day must maintain a complex regimen of anti-psychotic medications to control her episodic psychosis, Henry said in an email statement cited by The Kansas City Star.
“In the grip of her mental illness, Lisa committed a terrible crime. Yet she immediately expressed profound remorse and was willing to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence with no possibility of release,” Henry said.
“Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime, and she will never leave prison,” she said. “But her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice.”
The last woman to be executed by the US government was Bonnie Heady, who was put to death in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The Justice Department on Friday also scheduled a December 10 execution for Brandon Bernard, who with his accomplices murdered two youth ministers in 1999. The two executions will be the eighth and ninth the federal government has carried out in 2020.
The Trump administration ended an informal 17-year-hiatus in federal executions in July, after announcing last year that the Bureau of Prisons was switching to a new single-drug protocol for lethal injections, from a three-drug combination it last used in 2003.
The new protocol revived long-running legal challenges to lethal injections. In August, a federal judge in Washington, DC ruled the Justice Department was violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in not seeking a doctor's prescription to administer the highly regulated barbiturate.
But an appeals court held the violation did not in itself amount to "irreparable harm" and allowed federal executions to proceed.