Lisa Montgomery was executed for strangling a pregnant woman in Missouri and cutting the baby off her womb.
A Kansas woman was executed Wednesday for strangling a pregnant woman in Missouri and cutting the baby off her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the U.S. government has put an inmate to death.
Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. after receiving a fatal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection there since July when President Donald Trump, a strong supporter of the death penalty, resumed federal executions after 17 years without one.
As the execution process began, a woman standing on Montgomery’s shoulder leaned down, gently removed Montgomery’s face mask and asked if she had a final word. “No,” Montgomery replied in a calm, muffled voice. She didn’t say anything else.
“The cowardly bloodlust of a failing administration was on full display tonight,” Montgomery attorney Kelley Henry said in a statement. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should be ashamed of themselves.”
“The government has stepped back in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,” Ms. Henry said. “Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from fair.
It came after hours of legal wrangling before the Supreme Court cleared the way for execution to move forward. Montgomery was the first of the last three federal inmates to die before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to halt federal executions.
But a District of Columbia federal judge suspended executions scheduled for later this week of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs in a ruling on Tuesday. Johnson, convicted of killing seven people linked to his drug trafficking in Virginia, and Higgs, convicted of ordering the murder of three women in Maryland, both tested positive for COVID-19 last month .
Montgomery killed Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, in the northwestern Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, then cut the baby girl from the womb. with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to impersonate the girl as his own.
An appeals court granted Montgomery a stay of execution on Tuesday, shortly after another appeals court overturned an Indiana judge’s ruling that she was likely mentally ill and could not understand that she would be put to death. But both appeals were dropped, allowing the execution of the only woman sentenced to death at the federal level.
One of Montgomery’s attorneys, Kelley Henry, said The Associated Press on Tuesday morning, his client arrived late Monday night at the Terre Haute facility from a Texas prison and that, due to lack of facilities for inmates, she was being held in a cell in the very building of the execution chamber.
“I don’t think she has a rational understanding of what’s going on,” Ms. Henry said.
Montgomery has clocked in in prison, making gloves, hats and other knitted items as gifts for his lawyers and others, Ms Henry said. She has not been able to continue this hobby or read since her glasses were removed for fear of suicide.
“All of her coping mechanisms were taken away when they locked her up” in October when she was told she had an execution date, Ms. Henry said.
Montgomery’s legal team says she suffered “sexual torture,” including gang rape, as a child, permanently emotionally scarring her and exacerbating the mental health issues that plagued her. family.
At trial, prosecutors accused Montgomery of faking mental illness, noting that his murder of Stinnett was premeditated and included careful planning, including researching online on how to perform a cesarean.
‘No grip on reality’
Ms Henry balked at the idea, citing extensive tests and brain scans that supported the diagnosis of mental illness.
“You can’t fake brain scans that show brain damage,” she says.
Ms Henry said the question at the heart of the legal arguments was not whether she knew the murder was wrong in 2004, but whether she fully understood why she should be executed now.
In his suspension decision, U.S. District Judge James Patrick Hanlon in Terre Haute cited defense experts who alleged Montgomery suffered from depression, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Montgomery, the judge wrote, also suffered around the time of the murder from an extremely rare condition called pseudocyesis in which a woman’s false belief that she is pregnant triggers hormonal and physical changes as if she was actually pregnant. .
Montgomery also experiences delusions and hallucinations, believing God spoke to him through connection puzzles, the judge said, citing defense experts.
“There is ample evidence in the record before the court that Ms. Montgomery’s current mental state is so far removed from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s justification for her execution,” the judge said.
The government has acknowledged Montgomery’s mental health issues, but disputes that she cannot understand that she should be executed for killing another person because of them.
Details of the crime sometimes left jurors in tears during his trial.
Prosecutors told the jury that Montgomery drove about 274 miles from his farm in Melvern, Kansas, to the town of Skidmore, northwest Missouri, under the guise of adopting a Stinnett terrier puppy. She strangled Stinnett by performing a rude Caesarean section and running away with the baby.
Prosecutors said Stinnett had regained consciousness and attempted to defend himself as Montgomery cut the little girl off her stomach. Later that day, Montgomery called her husband to pick her up from the parking lot of a Long John Silver’s in Topeka, Kansas, telling her that she delivered the baby earlier that day at a birthing center. neighbour.
Montgomery was arrested the next day after showing premature baby, Victoria Jo, who is now 16 and has not spoken publicly about the tragedy.
Prosecutors said the motive was that Montgomery’s ex-husband knew she had undergone a tubal ligation which made her sterile and planned to reveal that she was lying about being pregnant in an attempt to obtain custody of two of their four children. Needing a baby before a fast-approaching court date, Montgomery focused on Stinnett, whom she had met at dog shows.
Anti-death penalty groups said Mr. Trump was pushing for executions ahead of the November election in a cynical attempt to build a reputation as a leader of law and order.
The last woman executed by the federal government was Bonnie Brown Heady on December 18, 1953 for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy in Missouri.
The last woman executed by a state was Kelly Gissendaner, 47, on September 30, 2015, in Georgia. She was convicted of murder in the murder of her husband in 1997 after conspiring with her lover, who stabbed Douglas Gissendaner to death.