It will be the first execution of a female federal prison in the USA in 67 years. Lisa Montgomery, who strangled a pregnant woman in Missouri in 2004 and then opened and stole her baby, will die by lethal injection in Terre Haute, Indiana, on December 8.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the last time a woman was executed by the US government was in 1953: Bonnie Brown Heady died in the gas chamber, convicted of kidnapping and murdering, along with her boyfriend, the son of six years of an automotive tycoon.
Attorney General William Barr announced the decision to proceed with the execution of Montgomery, 52, through an announcement where he also announced the December 10 execution date for Brandon Bernard, 40, who along with two accomplices was found guilty of the murder of two church pastors in Texas in 1999.
Barr said these crimes are “especially heinous”.
Who is Lisa Montgomery?
Lisa Montgomery met Bobbie Jo Stineett at a chat room. In December 2004, Lisa left Kansas and went to Bobbie Jo Stinnett, Missouri, supposedly to buy a dog. “Once inside the residence, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett until the victim lost consciousness,” reads the Justice Department statement.
“Using a kitchen knife, Montgomery cut Stinnett’s abdomen,” who was eight months pregnant. She regained consciousness and fought. Montgomery strangled Stinnett to death. Then he removed the baby from Stinnett’s body, took it with him, saying it was his daughter.
Her husband, Kevin Montgomery, said he had no idea that the baby was not theirs, since in the previous months Lisa had pretended to be pregnant.
In 2007, a jury found Montgomery guilty of kidnapping and murder and unanimously recommended the death sentence.
Montgomery’s lawyers claim that she has mental problems, motivated by beatings when she was a child, and that she suffers from psychosis and other illnesses, so she should not be sentenced to death. “In the grip of mental illness, Lisa committed a terrible crime,” Kelley Henry, a district attorney in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a statement. “However, she immediately expressed deep remorse and was willing to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of release. Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime and will never get out of prison. But his severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of his childhood trauma make execution a profound injustice. “
Stinnett’s daughter, Victoria Jo, is currently 16 years old.
Montgomery is the only woman among the 55 federal prisoners awaiting execution, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
How does the death penalty work in the USA?
In the United States justice system, crimes can be prosecuted in federal, national, or state, regional, regional courts.
The death penalty was banned by a 1972 Supreme Court decision. Then, a 1976 decision allowed states to reinstate the death penalty, and in 1988 the government passed legislation that made it possible again at the federal level. According to data gathered by the Death Penalty Information Center78 people were sentenced to death in federal lawsuits between 1988 and 2018, but only three were executed.
That number increased during the Trump Administration. The executions of Montgomery and Bernard will be the eighth and ninth that the federal government has carried out this year.
In state prisons, 16 women have been executed since 1976. The most recent was in September 2015, when Kelly Renee Gissendaner died by lethal injection in Georgia for the murder of her husband in 1997.