Updated 5 hours ago
A US court suspended the execution of the death sentence against Lisa Montgomery, who was to become the first woman in 70 years to be executed in the United States by a federal decision.
Judge James Hanlon ruled that Montgomery’s sanity hearings should be held prior to execution. The woman’s lawyers argue that she has a congenital brain defect, and she simply does not understand what exactly is happening to her.
“In her current mental state, Montgomery is so distant from reality that she cannot rationally judge the reasons why the government intends to execute her,” the judge said.
The date for the hearing on Montgomery’s sanity will be set later.
The woman’s lawyers welcomed the court’s decision.
“As the court found, Montgomery has clearly demonstrated that her mental state does not allow her to be executed, – said defense attorney Kelly Henry. – Montgomery suffers from brain damage and severe mental illness, which was aggravated by the sexual abuse she suffered throughout her life on the part of those who had to take care of her. “
According to CNN, prosecutors will challenge the court’s decision.
The Montgomery Crime
Lisa Montgomery, now 52, was abused by her stepfather for several years as a child. At the age of 36 (this was in 2004), she attacked 23-year-old Mary Joe Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant.
Montgomery removed the baby from Stinnett’s body, strangling her with a rope until she lost consciousness. The woman died from blood loss.
Montgomery met her victim through the Rat Terrier Forum. They corresponded for several months. Montgomery told Stinnett she was expecting a baby too. The women discussed pregnancy.
In December 2004, Montgomery arranged to meet with Stinnett to see the puppies. She traveled 281 kilometers from her home in Kansas to Skidmore, Missouri, where her victim lived.
However, Stinnett did not expect Montgomery to come to her. The killer made an appointment with her using a pre-established fake account in the name of Darlene Fisher.
When Stinnett opened the door, Montgomery attacked her with a rope, and after Stinnett fainted, she cut the fruit out of her body with a kitchen knife.
Investigators quickly realized that no Darlene Fisher existed and the very next day they tracked down Montgomery using the IP address from which she corresponded with the victim. When the police found her, they found her baby, a girl. Montgomery initially claimed that this was her daughter, who was born the day before, but then confessed to the murder.
The child survived the attack, and Montgomery has been held in a federal women’s prison in Texas since 2008, where he is undergoing mental health care. After the date of Montgomery’s execution was announced, she was placed under special surveillance.
Execution or life sentence?
Montgomery’s execution has been postponed for the second time: she was supposed to have been given a lethal injection back in December, but her lawyer fell ill with Covid-19, and the execution was postponed.
The last woman to be executed at the federal level in the United States was Bonnie Heady, who in 1953 kidnapped and killed a child for ransom. She was sentenced to capital punishment and sent to the gas chamber.
It is possible that Montgomery will now be able to avoid execution, since the US President-elect Joe Biden intends to end the execution of death sentences handed down at the federal level.
The administration of outgoing President Donald Trump has resumed federal executions after a 17-year hiatus (although over the years people have continued to be executed at the state level).
With 10 federal death sentences carried out since last summer, Lisa Montgomery was slated to rank 11th. Federal authorities are planning to execute two more convicts this week.
Instead of the death penalty, the Biden administration is proposing life imprisonment in the form of punishment without the possibility of being released on parole.
According to the latest Gallup study, 54% of Americans believe the death penalty is ethically acceptable. And while this percentage seems high, it is actually a record low – six percentage points lower than a year ago.