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US carries out first federal execution of woman since 1953

Lisa Montgomery killed a pregnant 23-year-old woman in 2004.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/josefkubes

THE US HAS carried out the first federal execution of a woman in almost seven decades, the US Justice Department said.

She is the first woman to be executed by federal authorities in the US since 1953.

The US Justice Department said in a statement: “Lisa Montgomery, 52, was executed at the US Penitentiary Terre Haute in accordance with the capital sentence unanimously recommended by a federal jury and imposed by the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri in 2007.”

Earlier, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trump administration, giving the Bureau of Prisons the authority to proceed with her execution.

Montgomery’s lawyers do not deny the seriousness of her crime: in 2004, she killed a pregnant 23-year-old woman in order to steal her baby.

But her lawyer Kelley Henry, in a statement earlier, called the decision a “vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power”.

Unable to have a child, Montgomery carefully identified her victim – 23-year-old dog breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett – online.

Under the guise of buying a puppy, Montgomery went to Stinnett’s home, where she strangled her to death and cut the baby from her body. She left Stinnett dead in a pool of blood.

In 2007, she was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death and handed a death sentence.

Her defenders believe that she suffers from severe mental health issues stemming from abuse she suffered as a child. According to them, she does not understand the meaning of her sentence, a prerequisite for execution.

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On Monday evening, a federal judge granted the defense a victory, ordering a stay of execution to allow time to assess Montgomery’s mental state.

“The record before the Court contains ample evidence that Ms Montgomery’s current mental state is so divorced from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s rationale for her execution,” the ruling stated.

But an appeals court overturned the decision yesterday, leaving it up to the US Supreme Court to decide.

Includes reporting by © – AFP, 2021

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