A US appeals court has lifted the stay of execution for the only woman awaiting a federal death sentence.
Lisa Montgomery strangled a pregnant woman in Missouri before cutting and kidnapping the baby in 2004.
If the execution continues, she will be the first federal inmate to be put to death in nearly 70 years.
Montgomery’s execution date was originally set for last month, but a stay was put in place after his lawyers contracted Covid-19.
It was then postponed to January 12 by the Department of Justice. But Montgomery’s lawyers argued that the date could not be set until a stay was in place.
A court sided with his lawyers, stopping an order from the director of the Bureau of Prisons scheduling his death.
But Friday, a panel of judges concluded that the director had acted in accordance with the law , allowing execution to take place.
Montgomery’s legal team said it would file a petition for the judges to reconsider their decision .
The last woman to be executed by the U.S. government was Bonnie Heady, who died in a Missouri gas chamber in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Federal executions had been suspended for 17 years before President Donald Trump ordered them to resume earlier last year.
If the remaining executions continue, Mr. Trump will have overseen the most executions by a US president in more than a century.
Montgomery’s execution date is just days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Mr Biden, who for decades was a staunch supporter of the death penalty as a senator from Delaware, has now said he will seek to end federal executions once he takes office.
Who is Lisa Montgomery?
In December 2004, Montgomery drove from Kansas to the home of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, Missouri, allegedly to purchase a puppy, according to a press release from the Ministry of Justice .
“Once inside the residence, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett – who was eight months pregnant – until the victim lost consciousness,” he says.
Montgomery cut Stinnett’s body to remove the baby, which she took with her in an attempt to pass it off as her own.
In 2007, a jury found Montgomery guilty of federal kidnapping resulting in death and unanimously recommended a death sentence.
But Montgomery’s lawyers say she suffered brain damage from beatings as a child and is mentally ill, so she shouldn’t face the death penalty.
Federal and State Executions – What’s the Difference?
In the US justice system, crimes can be tried either in federal courts, at the national level, or in state courts, at the regional level.
Certain crimes, such as currency counterfeiting or mail theft, are automatically tried at the federal level, as are cases in which the United States is a party or those involving violations of the Constitution.
The death penalty was banned at the national and federal levels by a 1972 Supreme Court decision overturning all existing laws on the death penalty.
A 1976 Supreme Court ruling allowed states to reinstate the death penalty, and in 1988 the government passed a law making it available again at the federal level.
According to data collected by the Information Center on the Death Penalty, 78 people were sentenced to death in federal cases between 1988 and 2018, but only three were executed.
This article appeared first on: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55513158