US court clears way for execution of only woman on federal death row
The US Supreme Court has overturned a stay on convicted murderer Lisa Montgomery’s execution by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, clearing the way for application of the death penalty for the only woman on federal death row in the United States, who doctors say is brain-damaged and mentally ill.
The execution of Montgomery would be the first time the U.S. government has imposed the death sentence on a female inmate since 1953.
Across several federal courts, there have been challenges over whether to allow the execution of the 52-year-old Montgomery, who would initially be killed by lethal injections of pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate, at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) Tuesday in the execution room of the Department of Justice in his prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Montgomery’s attorney Kelley Henry called the pending execution in sharp remarks, “vicious, illegal and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.”
“No one can reliably challenge Mrs Montgomery’s credible diseases – which are being diagnosed and treated for the first time by the Prison Bureau’s own doctors,” Henry said in a statement.
Montgomery was convicted in 2007 in Missouri of kidnapping and strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, then eight months pregnant. Montgomery cut Stinnett’s fetus out of the womb. The child survived.
Some of Stinnett’s family members traveled to witness the execution of Montgomery, the Justice Department said.
Montgomery’s lawyers asked for Trump’s mercy 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 should therefore rather receive a life sentence.
This is one of three executions the US Department of Justice has planned for the last full week of President Donald Trump’s administration. Two other executions scheduled for Thursday and Friday have been delayed for the time being by at least one federal judge in Washington to recover them from COVID-19.
Federal executions have been interrupted for 17 years and only three men have been executed by the federal government since 1963 until practice resumed last year under Trump, whose outspoken support for the death penalty was long before he entered politics.