Lisa Montgomery has just become the first female inmate to be executed by the federal government in the USA in nearly 70 years. The last time a woman was executed was in 1953.
Montgomery (52) from Kansas was pronounced dead at 1.31am on Wednesday, January 13 after receiving a lethal injection at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the only woman on death row, and the 11th person in total to be executed since July when the Trump administration resumed capital punishment after almost two decades.
The death penalty in the United States is primarily governed by state law, not federal law. Although there is a federal death penalty, more than 98%of the men and women on death rows across the United States are incarcerated as a result of state laws. Montgomery is the first in 67 years to be executed under federal law, but there have been many women executed over the years under state law including prolific serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2002.
Montgomery was found guilty of killing and cutting a baby out of the womb of Bobbie Jo Stinnett (23), who was eight months pregnant at the time, in Missouri in 2004. She had befriended the woman online over their shared love of dogs, then drove to her home and strangled her before cutting the child out of Stinnett’s womb. She then took the child and tried to pass her off as her own when police found her the next day.
At trial, her lawyers argued that Montgomery was a victim of repeated sexual and physical abuse since her childhood, and had been born brain-damaged. This stance was supported by 41 current and former lawyers, as well as human rights groups like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
However, the defence accused her of faking her mental illness and argued that the murder was premeditated as they found evidence of her researching how to perform a C-section. She was found guilty of kidnapping resulting in death and sentenced to death in 2007.
Since then, she has been held in a federal prison for female inmates with special needs in Texas. She was receiving psychiatric care and was laced on suicide watch in an isolated cell after she was given her execution date.
An appeals court granted her a stay of execution on Tuesday [January 12] after another appeals court lifted an Indiana judge’s ruling that Montgomery was likely mentally ill and could not comprehend her death sentence. Both appeals were lifted, allowing the execution to go ahead.
“Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame,” said Montgomery’s attorney, Kelley Henry in a statement after the execution. “The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman. Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”