An American woman who murdered a pregnant dog breeder in order to steal her baby was put to death by lethal injection today, becoming the first woman to be executed by US federal authorities in nearly 70 years.
The US Department of Justice said Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 p.m. EST (5:31 p.m. AEDT) in a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
He said the execution was “in accordance with the death penalty unanimously recommended by a federal jury and imposed by the US District Court for the Western District and Missouri.”
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Montgomery’s execution hours earlier – despite doubts about his mental state – after Président Donald Trump the administration had lobbied for the application of the death penalty.
Defenders for Montgomery have not denied the gravity of her crime: in 2004, she killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman and cut her baby off.
But her representatives say she suffered from serious mental health issues resulting from the extreme abuse she suffered as a child.
Her lawyer Kelley Henry, in a statement, called the decision – the first for an inmate since 1953 – “a vicious, illegal and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.”
“The cowardly bloodlust of a failing administration that was on full display tonight,” Henry said.
“Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should be ashamed of themselves.”
The execution came after a legal back and forth that ended with the highest court in the country allowing it to proceed.
Unable to have a child, Montgomery carefully identified one victim – 23-year-old dog breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett – online.
Under the guise of buying a puppy, Montgomery went to Stinnett’s, where she strangled her and took her baby away.
In 2007, she was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death and sentenced to death.
Her supporters said she did not understand the meaning of her sentence, they said, a precondition for execution.
Monday evening, federal judge offered defense a brief lifeline, ordering a stay of execution to allow time to assess Montgomery’s mental state.
“There is ample evidence in the record before the court that Ms. Montgomery’s current mental state is so far removed from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s justification for her execution,” said the judgment.
But an appeals court overturned that decision yesterday, leaving it to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide. He said the execution could take place.
CLEMENCY PLEA IGNORÉ
Mr. Trump, like many of his Conservative constituents, is a strong supporter of the death penalty and has ignored a call for clemency from Montgomery supporters.
Despite the drop in the death penalty in the United States and around the world, the Trump administration resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus, and is applying them at an unprecedented rate since.
Since the summer, 10 Americans have died by lethal injection in Terre Haute.
In addition to Montgomery, two men are due to be executed by the federal government this week. Their executions were suspended on Tuesday due to their contract COVID-19[feminine[feminine.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on Monday announced the introduction of legislation to end federal executions. It could be adopted once president is elected Joe Biden takes office next week and Democrats regain control of the Senate.
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In a scathing statement, Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun known for her activism against the death penalty, spoke over the weekend of federal prosecutors “working all day and all night” to counter appeals from federal inmates.
“You might not have to see the fear or smell the sweat in the execution chamber, but your hand is in there,” Prejean wrote, urging them to “just say ‘no’ this week to the work to execute a woman and two men. the week before Biden’s inauguration.
Former guards at Terre Haute penitentiary have written to the Justice Ministry to ask that the executions be postponed until prison staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Between executioners, guards, witnesses and lawyers, an execution brings together dozens of people in a closed environment, which is conducive to the spread of the virus.
U.S. states, including deeply conservative Texas, have suspended executions for months due to the pandemic – unlike the federal government, which pushed for many to be executed before Mr. Trump left.