U.S. Schedules Execution Of Woman Who Strangled Pregnant Woman, Cut Baby From Womb

The U.S. government has set a date for the execution of a woman convicted of killing a pregnant woman and cutting her baby out of her womb.

Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, is set to die by lethal injection at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on December 8, the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced on Friday.

If it goes ahead, Montgomery would be the first woman executed by the federal government in almost 70 years. She would also be the ninth federal inmate put to death since the federal government resumed executions in July after nearly 20 years.

Montgomery was convicted of federal kidnapping resulting in death in 2007. According to court documents, Montgomery had told friends and family that she was pregnant in the spring of 2004, despite having undergone a sterilization procedure more than a decade earlier.

In December that year, Montgomery contacted Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, using the alias Darlene Fischer under the guise of wanting to purchase a puppy.

Montgomery had met Stinnett at a dog show in April 2004, according to the documents. Both women were involved in the breeding of rat terriers and were acquainted through online message boards.

Lisa Montgomery
Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, is set to die by lethal injection at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on December 8. Attorney for Lisa Montgomery

The court documents say that on December 16, 2004, Montgomery drove from Melvern, Kansas to Stinnett's home in Skidmore, Missouri, where she fatally strangled the woman and cut the fetus from her abdomen using a kitchen knife. She took the baby with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.

Montgomery confessed to the crime and lost all bids to appeal her conviction and sentence, the DoJ said.

An attorney representing Montgomery said she has "long accepted full responsibility" for the crime, but added that "her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice."

In a statement to Newsweek, Kelley Henry, an assistant federal public defender, said Montgomery was sex-trafficked by her mother as a child and gang raped by adult men, which "exacerbated a genetic predisposition to mental illness inherited from both sides of her family."

"Few human beings have lived through the kind of torture and trauma that was inflicted on Lisa Montgomery by her mentally ill, alcoholic mother," Henry said.

"From a young age, Lisa was sexually trafficked, told she had to 'earn her keep,' and repeatedly gang raped by adult men. The abuses Lisa endured exacerbated a genetic predisposition to mental illness inherited from both sides of her family. She suffers from complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and to this day must maintain a complex regimen of anti-psychotic medications to control her episodic psychosis."

Henry added that Montgomery "immediately expressed profound remorse" for the "terrible crime" she committed and was willing to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence with no possibility of release.

"Lisa then was represented at trial by an incompetent lawyer who has the dubious distinction of having more clients on federal death row than any other attorney."

The attorney "failed to present Lisa's jury with competent evidence about her traumatic history and severe mental illness," Henry added.

"Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime, and she will never leave prison. But her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice."

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, women are "rarely sentenced to death in the United States and executions of women are even rarer."

As of April 1, there were 53 women on state and federal death rows, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

On Friday, the DoJ also scheduled the execution of Brandon Bernard for December 10. Bernard was found guilty of the murders of two youth ministers, Todd and Stacie Bagley, in Texas in 1999. Christopher Andre Vialva, who was convicted in the same killing, was executed in September.

Orlando Hall, a Black man who was convicted by an all-white jury, is set to be executed in November.

U.S. Schedules Execution Of Woman Who Strangled Pregnant Woman, Cut Baby From Womb | U.S.