A Kansas woman has been executed for strangling a pregnant woman and cutting the baby off her womb, the first time in nearly 70 years that the US government has put an inmate to death.
Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 am (6:31 am GMT) Wednesday after receiving a lethal injection of pentobarbital, a potent barbiturate, at a federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
She was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection there since July when President Donald Trump, a strong supporter of the death penalty, resumed federal executions after 17 years without one.
“The cowardly bloodlust of a failing administration was on full display tonight,” Montgomery attorney Kelley Henry said in a statement. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should be ashamed of themselves.”
Montgomery’s legal team said she suffered “sexual torture,” including gang rape, as a child, permanently healing her emotionally and exacerbating the mental health issues that plagued her. his family.
“The government has stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,” Henry said. “Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from fair.
The execution came after hours of legal wrangling before the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to continue. Montgomery was the first of three last federal inmates to die before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to halt federal executions.
Montgomery killed Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, in the northwestern 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 uterus with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass off the girl as his own.
An appeals court granted Montgomery a stay of execution on Tuesday, shortly after another appeals court overturned an Indiana judge’s ruling that she was likely mentally ill and could not understand that she would be put to death. But both appeals were dropped, allowing the execution of the only woman sentenced to death at the federal level.
“I don’t think she has a rational understanding of what’s going on,” Henry said Tuesday morning.
At trial, prosecutors accused Montgomery of faking mental illness, noting that Stinnett’s murder was premeditated and included meticulous planning, including researching online how to perform a cesarean section.
Henry recoiled at the idea, citing extensive tests and brain scans that supported the diagnosis of mental illness.
“You can’t fake brain scans that show brain damage,” she says.
Henry said the question at the heart of the legal arguments was not whether she knew the murder was wrong in 2004, but whether she fully understood why she should be executed now.
In his ruling on a suspension, U.S. District Judge James Patrick Hanlon cited defense experts who alleged Montgomery suffered from depression, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Montgomery, the judge wrote, also suffered around the time of the murder from an extremely rare condition called pseudocytosis, in which a woman’s false belief that she is pregnant triggers hormonal and physical changes as if she really was. pregnant.
Montgomery also experienced delusions and hallucinations, believing God spoke to him through connected puzzles, the judge said, citing defense experts.
“There is ample evidence in the court record that Ms. Montgomery’s current mental state is so far removed from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s justification for her execution,” the judge said.
The last woman executed by the federal government was Bonnie Brown Heady on December 18, 1953 for the kidnapping and murder of a six-year-old boy in Missouri.
The last woman executed by a state was Kelly Gissendaner, 47, on September 30, 2015, in Georgia. She was convicted of murder in the murder of her husband in 1997 after conspiring with her lover, who stabbed Douglas Gissendaner to death.