Since 2008, the American Lisa Montgomery has been living on “death row”, sentenced to death. capital punishment for killing a pregnant woman in order to steal her fetus. His execution was initially scheduled for Tuesday, January 12. But an Indiana judge provisionally suspended the execution overnight Monday to Tuesday, the channel reports CNN .
In his order, this judge writes that “Ms. Montgomery’s motion to stay execution is granted to allow the Court to hold a hearing to determine Ms. Montgomery’s jurisdiction to be executed”. No date has yet been set for the hearing.
Lisa Montgomery may yet become the first woman executed at United States by federal justice since 1953. On January 5, his defenders sent on his behalf a request for clemency, without success for the moment, to the president Donald Trump, arguing that she was a victim of gang rape as a child and that she suffers from mental disorders.
“His life has been filled with inconceivable terror”
In 2004, Lisa Montgomery had wished to have a child with her new husband but could not, having undergone a tubal ligation a few years earlier.
She then spotted an eight-month-pregnant woman, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, on a chat room and showed up at her home in Missouri under the pretext of buying her a dog. Instead, she had strangled this woman before retrieving the fetus. Lisa Montgomery then left with the little girl – who survived – but was arrested the next day.
Without denying the gravity of the facts, his relatives and his lawyers asked the outgoing president to commute his sentence to life imprisonment. This “Would send an important message […] on the need to come to the aid of victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse ”, they wrote in their request.
According to them, “His life was filled with an inconceivable terror” : she was a teenage victim of gang rape committed by her stepfather and friends of his, then “Sold” to other men by his alcoholic and violent mother. Married at 18 to her half-brother, she suffered further abuse.
“She was broken” and “Deeply transformed by these abuses” without ever receiving help, confided her half-sister Diane Mattingly, who also suffered rape before being taken from her family.
Lisa Montgomery also suffers from serious mental problems, including a dissociation from reality, write her defenders, who believe that it should serve as a “Extenuating circumstances”.
A resumption of federal executions
Trump administration resumed federal executions in July 2020, after a 17-year break, and has been chaining them since at a steady pace. Judging the crime of Lisa Montgomery “Particularly odious”, the US government has set January 12 as the date for the execution of this woman, eight days before Donald Trump leaves the White House.
According to a report by the American institute The Death Penalty Information Center, executions declined in the country between 2019 and 2020, from 22 to 17 executions. But federal executions, stopped since 2003 after a moratorium, resumed with more vigor: between July and the end of December, no less than 10 federal executions took place.
“Today, executions are declining and limited to a few southern states. But in 2020, the number of federal executions exceeded the total of other executions, marking a reversal of the trend ”, says André Kaspi, historian and author of the book The death penalty in the United States (Plon, 2003).
President Trump, a staunch supporter of the death penalty, has so far never accepted a request for leniency from a death row inmate.
Rare executions of women
As the New York Times , executions of women are relatively rare in the United States. 575 executions of women were counted out of the 15,931 executions recorded between 1608 and 2016 by the database Espy file, or about 3.6% of total executions.
As for local jurisdictions, 16 women sentenced to death have been executed since 1976 in the United States, the last of which was in September 2015.
The death penalty, a question of central society?
The death penalty is not today a central social issue in the American political debate, and it hardly surfaced during the presidential campaign. In 1976, the death penalty was even declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, after being provisionally suspended for four years.
“The death penalty is not about to be abolished in the United States, because the Supreme Court recognized its legitimacy in 1976. This court would have to reverse its decisions to abolish the death penalty. Even if there is little chance that this will happen, it is not excluded, but for that, it must be seized ”, specifies André Kaspi.
Joe Biden’s coming to power on January 20 should be a game-changer when it comes to federal executions, however. The president-elect notably indicated that he wished « adopt legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level and encourage states to follow the government’s example ”.