Kansas woman Lisa Montgomery was executed on Tuesday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb. This marks the first time in almost seven decades that the United States government has put to death a female prisoner.
Execution of Lisa Montgomery Halted
A federal appeals court on Tuesday issued a stay barring the execution of Montgomery, who was charged with the murder of a woman and cutting the baby out of her womb, which survived, back in 2004. In preparation, officials transferred her on Monday from the federal women's prison in Texas, where she was in custody for over a decade.
The 52-year-old woman has been pronounced dead at 1:31 AM on Wednesday upon receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Indiana's Terre Haute, reported New York Post.
Two other executions scheduled for later this week were also halted due to the fact that the prisoners tested positive for COVID-19.
The three executions were supposedly the last prior to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week as he is an opponent of the federal death penalty.
The decision comes after Judge James Hanlon of the Southern District of Indiana had granted a stay of execution on Monday to determine if Montgomery was eligible to be executed as indicated by the Eighth Amendment. The number of additional executions under President Donald Trump is unclear. Trump resumed federal executions in July following a 17-year pause. Ten federal prisoners have since been executed, reported ABC News.
The family of the woman Montgomery killed traveled to Indiana to witness her execution.
The Indiana federal judge barred her death to allow a hearing on whether Montgomery is too mentally ill to be imposed the ruling.
Lawyers for Montgomery were also appealing to the Supreme Court to issue a stay of execution after the Indiana judge's ruling that had halted it pending a mental competency review was lifted.
According to Kelley Henry, a lawyer for Montgomery, the accused suffers from severe mental illness that was "exacerbated by the lifetime of sexual torture she suffered at the hands of caretakers," reported Yahoo.
As part of Henry's appeal, psychiatric experts submitted affidavits and claimed she is not able to understand the basis for her execution.
Henry stated, "Mrs. Montgomery is mentally deteriorating and we are seeking an opportunity to prove her incompetence."
In 2004, Montgomery killed then-23 Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore. She used a rope to strangle the victim, who was eight months pregnant and then knifed her daughter from her womb. Montgomery then abducted the child and attempted to pass the daughter off as her own.
Meanwhile, a federal judge for the United States District of Columbia halted the slated executions later this week of Dustin Higgs and Corey Johnson in a ruling on Tuesday. Higgs, convicted of ordering the killings of three women in Maryland, and Johnson, convicted of killing seven people connected to his drug trafficking in Virginia, both tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2020.
Montgomery was initially scheduled to be executed in December, but the date was delayed after her attorneys contracted COVID-19.