1st execution of female inmate in 67 years halted

Clay Curtis
January 13, 2021

While Montgomery's stay of execution halts what would have been the USA government's first execution of a female inmate in more than 67 years, two men on federal death row face execution later in the week.

On Monday evening, a federal judge granted the defense a landmark victory, ordering a stay of execution to allow time to assess Montgomery's mental state.

It came after hours of legal wrangling before the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution.

Days after Lisa Montgomery, only woman on death row in the USA, was scheduled to be executed before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, a judge has granted a stay of execution to her.

The high school classmate declined an interview but told us Montgomery deserves the death penalty for what she did and the pain it caused.

"The Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of people like Mrs. Montgomery who, due to their severe mental illness or brain damage, do not understand the basis for their executions". She then used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from her womb.

Montgomery's lawyers asked for Trump's clemency last week, saying she committed her crime after a childhood in which she was abused and repeatedly raped by her stepfather and his friends, and so should instead face life in prison. The two men were recently infected with COVID-19 and the lethal injection could cause them illegal suffering, judges said.

In his ruling on a stay, US District Judge James Patrick Hanlon cited defence experts who alleged Montgomery suffered depression, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"She thereby sandbagged the government and the courts by undermining the government's ability to comprehensively demonstrate, at the last minute, that the hundreds of pages of materials she proffered with her petition do not make any threshold showing of her incompetence", her lawyers wrote.

It has since carried out 10 federal executions, the most in a single year in the U.S.in decades. A search of her computer showed that she had used it to research caesareans and order a birthing kit.

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Federal executions had been halted for 17 years prior to last summer.

In a scathing statement, Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun known for her activism against the death penalty, spoke over the weekend of federal prosecutors "working all day and through the nights" to counter the appeals of federal inmates.

His administration had also set execution dates for two men convicted of murder on Thursday and Friday, but a US judge in Washington ordered their executions be delayed until at least March 16 in order to allow them to recover from COVID-19.

The executions were to be the last before USA president-elect Joe Biden, who opposes the death penalty, is sworn in next week.

The prematurely born infant, Victoria Jo, survived and is now 16 years old.

"The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight", Montgomery's attorney, Kelley Henry said in a statement.

Montgomery drove from Melvern, Kansas to the northwest town of Skidmore under the guise of adopting a rat terrier puppy from Stinnett. Her mother testified that she never filed a police complaint because he had threatened her and her children.

Prosecutors said the motive was that Montgomery's ex-husband knew she had undergone a tubal ligation that made her sterile and planned to reveal she was lying about being pregnant in an effort to get custody of two of their four children.

The last woman executed by a state was Kelly Gissendaner, 47, on September 30, 2015, in Georgia. She joins Bonnie Brown Heady who was put to death in a gas chamber in December 1953 for her role in the kidnapping and murder of a multi-millionaire auto dealer's 6-year-old son; and Ethel Rosenberg who was executed in June 1953 for trying to deliver war secrets to the Soviet Union.

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