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US plans first federal execution of a woman in 70 years

October 17, 2020

Lisa Montgomery, who was found guilty of murdering a pregnant woman in 2004, is set to be executed by lethal injection in December. Six people have been put to death since the US resumed federal executions in July.

A bed with straps where inmates are executed
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Buck

The US Department of Justice announced on Friday that it has scheduled the first federal execution of a female inmate in almost seven decades.

Lisa Montgomery, convicted of a 2004 murder, is to be given a lethal injection on December 8 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana.

She would be the ninth person to be put to death since July, when the Justice Department resumed executions after a gap of almost two decades.

Bonnie Heady was the last woman to be executed by the US government. She was put to death in a gas chamber in 1953.

Read more: US brings back death penalty for federal inmates

Montgomery strangled and killed Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was 8 months pregnant, in 2004. Prosecutors said she used a kitchen knife to remove Stinnett's baby from her womb. She then took the child with her, and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.

In 2007, a US district court sentenced Montgomery to death after declaring her guilty of federal kidnapping resulting in death. At the time, Montgomery's lawyers had argued that she was suffering from delusions when she killed Stinnett, but the jury rejected the defense.

Read more: US appeals court clears way for first federal execution in 17 years

Kelley Henry, Montgomery's attorney, said that her client shouldn't be executed as she is mentally ill and a survivor of child abuse. 

"Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime, and she will never leave prison," said Henry. "But her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice."

The Trump administration restarted federal executions in July, when Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist convicted of murdering a family of three, was executed. According to anti-death penalty groups, President Donald Trump is pushing for more executions to brandish his reputation as a law-and-order leader.

Six people have been executed since July. 

Amnesty report indicates big fall in executions around world

am/nm (AP, Reuters)