Convicted murderer Lisa Montgomery pictured at the Federal Medical Center Fort Worth. File/Reuters
Gulf Today Report
The US government executed convicted murderer Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, early on Wednesday, for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb.
Montgomery's execution marked the first time in nearly seven decades that the US government has put to death a female inmate.
Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31am on Wednesday after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
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Challenges were fought across multiple federal courts on whether to allow execution of Montgomery, 52, who had initially been scheduled to be killed by lethal injections of pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate on Tuesday in the Justice Department's execution chamber at its prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
She was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection there since July when President Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one.
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“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight,” Montgomery’s attorney, Kelley Henry said in a statement. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame.”
“The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,” Henry said. “Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”
Kelley Henry, Montgomery's lawyer, in scathing remarks, called the pending execution, "vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power."
It came after hours of legal wrangling before the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to move forward. Montgomery was the first of the final three federal inmates scheduled to die before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to discontinue federal executions.
But a federal judge for the District of Columbia halted the scheduled executions later this week of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs in a ruling Tuesday. Johnson, convicted of killing seven people related to his drug trafficking in Virginia, and Higgs, convicted of ordering the murders of three women in Maryland, both tested positive for COVID-19 last month.
Montgomery killed 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.
An appeals court granted Montgomery a stay of execution Tuesday, shortly after another appeals court lifted an Indiana judge’s ruling that found she was likely mentally ill and couldn’t comprehend she would be put to death. But both appeals were lifted, allowing the execution of the only female on federal death row to go forward.
One of Montgomery’s lawyers, Kelley Henry, told The Associated Press Tuesday morning that her client arrived at the Terre Haute facility late Monday night from a Texas prison and that, because there are no facilities for female inmates, she was being kept in a cell in the execution-chamber building itself.
“I don’t believe she has any rational comprehension of what’s going on at all,” Henry said.
Montgomery has done needle-point in prison, making gloves, hats and other knitted items as gifts for her lawyers and others, Henry said. She hasn’t been able to continue that hobby or read since her glasses were taken away from her out of concern she could commit suicide.
Hall, 49, is the subject of three separate legal battles to delay his execution, in what would be the eighth one carried out this year under the Trump administration after a 17-year hiatus.
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