The US federal government executed 52-year-old Lisa Montgomery on Wednesday morning. Federal executioners at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana gave Montgomery a lethal injection in the early hours of Wednesday, after the US Supreme Court lifted a last-minute stay of execution. A lower court judge had stayed the execution, citing concerns over Montgomery’s competence to receive the capital sentence imposed on her for the murder of 23-year-old Bobbi Jo Stinnett in 2004.
Montgomery was the only woman on federal death row.
Montgomery’s guilt was never in doubt. She confessed to strangling Stinnett — who was eight months pregnant at the time she was murdered — and used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from Stinnett’s womb. When investigators caught up with Montgomery, she was cradling the baby girl and told police she had given birth to the child the day before.
Lawyers and other advocates had long argued mitigating circumstances for Montgomery, including severe mental illness and a lifetime of suffering that included horrendous sexual abuse and torture that began when Montgomery was a small child, and lasted for years, should make Montgomery ineligible for the death penalty.
A federal judge earlier this week stayed the execution so a competency hearing could be scheduled, but the US Supreme Court later lifted the stay.
Witness reports from the place of execution say a woman standing beside Montgomery during the process removed the inmate’s face mask and asked if she had any last words. “No,” Montgomery reportedly responded. Lisa Montgomery died at 01:31am local time (06:31 GMT).
“The government,” said Montgomery’s attorney, Kelley Henry, “stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman.”
“Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice,” Henry also said in the statement. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame.”
“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight,” Henry said — a reference to the US Justice Department’s resumption, after a nearly two-decade hiatus, of federal executions. The direction to resume executions came from US President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, in July of 2019.
The US federal government executed 10 federal inmates in 2020, and three others including Montgomery had executions scheduled for this week, before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on 20 January.
The US Catholic bishops have have implored the Trump administration to stop the executions. Senior Churchmen in the US have also asked President-elect Biden to declare a moratorium on the use of capital punishment at the federal level and to commute federal death sentences to life in prison.