Drama on death row.
This Tuesday, Lisa Montgomery is expected to be the first woman to be federally executed in nearly 70 years. This Kansas mother of four was convicted of strangling and disemboweling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 8 months pregnant, in December 2004 in Missouri, to extract the baby with a kitchen knife.
His relatives and lawyers had pleaded his mental instability at the time of the murder. She was due to be executed on December 8, but the fateful date had been postponed, her lawyers having been infected with Covid-19. She was to be killed by lethal injection, a technique used mostly on American soil, in Terre Haute prison in Indiana. This federal prison is the only one that still has an active “death row”.
But a judge granted the inmate a stay.
Attorneys for the convict argued that Lisa Montgomery was not in a mental state compatible with her execution. She suffers from mental disorders due to gang rape and violence suffered as a child.
“The information presented to the court contains ample evidence that Ms Montgomery’s current mental state is so far removed from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s motive for her execution,” Judge James Hanlon wrote in her decision.
He said the court would set a date for a subsequent hearing to assess his mental state.
Before Donald Trump, only George Bush had used the death penalty three times. The outgoing president even asked for the right to use firing squads. Without success, because only lethal injection is authorized at the federal level.
Joe Biden, who will take the reins on January 20, has promised to end the death penalty on American soil.
Other planned executions
This execution avoided in extremis was to take place only eight days before the passing of the torch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. But others are planned: the execution of Corey Johnson is scheduled this Thursday in Terre Haute, for a series of murders committed in 1992. And finally, it will be the turn of Dusting Higgs on Friday, sentenced for a triple murder.
Donald Trump had promised the execution of 13 federal detainees before the end of his mandate. And since this summer, he has not slowed down. This is the highest number of federal executions since at least 1927, according to the New York Times.
Before leaving office in January 2017, Barack Obama had allowed two inmates to leave death row. Brandon Bernard, who had already requested a pardon, had not been selected. He has since been executed. In fact, tradition has dictated that outgoing presidents, when they hand over the White House to a new administration, refrain from executing, leaving their successor to approve, pardon or commute a death sentence. .
“All these convicts have committed horrible crimes”, likes to justify the Minister of Justice of Trump, Bill Barr.
Fewer and fewer executions in states
And Trump can still count on the support of part of America to carry his policy through. Support for the death penalty is the lowest in 50 years, according to the Gallup Institute, but still nearly 55% of Americans believe it is an appropriate punishment for murder.
According to the Information Center on the Death Penalty (DPIC), executions ordered by the states themselves are at their lowest in 2020, due to the pandemic and the risk for detainees, their lawyers and executioners. Fifteen detainees have been executed since the start of the year (compared to 22 in 2019). And only three in Texas (compared to 9 in 2019). Colorado this year joined the list of those who abolished the death penalty: they are now 22 out of 50.