On Jan. 12, Lisa Montgomery, who strangled a pregnant woman and ripped the baby out of her womb, will be executed by lethal injection.
The last woman on death row to be executed before President-elect Joe Biden assumes office has been cleared by a U.S. appeals court. The decision was handed down by a three-judge U.S. court on Friday. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that, in an order released last week, a lower court judge erred in setting aside Lisa Montgomery’s execution date. US. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss had ruled that Montgomery’s execution was wrongly postponed by the Justice Department, and he reversed an order by the head of the Bureau of Prisons that set her dead for Jan. 12. Montgomery was expected to be executed at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, by lethal injection in December, but Moss delayed the execution after her attorneys contracted the coronavirus during a meeting with her client and requested him to extend the deadline for filing a petition for clemency. Moss concluded that the Bureau of Prisons could not even pause Montgomery’s execution under his order.
Meaghan VerGow, Montgomery’s counsel, said her legal team would petition the entire appeals court to reconsider the case and that Montgomery could not be executed on Jan. 12. In December 2004, in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore, Montgomery was accused of murdering 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the little girl from her womb with a kitchen knife, authorities said.
Montgomery took the baby with her and attempted to pass the child off as her own, prosecutors said. Montgomery’s lawyers have said she suffers from serious mental illness. “In an earlier statement, one of her lawyers, Sandra Babcock, said, “Given the nature of the mental disorder of Mrs. Montgomery, the sexual and physical torture she has suffered throughout her life, and the link between her suffering and the truth of her crime, we call on President Trump to grant her clemency and commute her sentence to life in prison.
But Biden has not said if, when he assumes office on Jan. 20, he will prohibit federal executions.