Lisa Montgomery, a 52 year old Kansas woman was executed by lethal injection early on Wednesday at a prison in Terre Haute Indiana. The execution went ahead despite the opinion of 41 current and former lawyers as well as human rights groups including the Inter American Commission on Human rights who believe that at the time of her crime, Montgomery was out of touch with reality and psychotic.
Montgomery murdered 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the north-west Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. Stinnet was 8 months pregnant at the time. Montgomery who the US District Judge James Patrick Hanlon wrote had suffered from pseudocyesis at the time of the killing (an extremely rare condition where a woman’s belief that she is pregnant actually triggers hormonal and physical changes as if she was pregnant, used a rope to strangle Stinnet. She then cut the unborn baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife. As Stinnet lay bleeding to death, Montgomery took of with the baby and endeavored to pass the girl off as her own child.
When police found her with the new-born baby girl she told them that she had given birth to the child the day before. She finally confessed to the murder and was found guilty of the crime in 2007 and sentenced to death.
Her lawyers pleaded that Montgomery suffered abominable abuse as a child which included being raped and tortured by her father as well as being subjected to gang rapes and other atrocities. These heinous events they claimed exacerbated mental health issues that were already inherent in her family.
However at her trial Montgomery was accused by prosecutors of faking her mental illness and believed that her killing of Stinnett was indeed a premeditated crime that she meticulously planned. This included her doing extensive online research on how to perform a C-section.
One of Montgomery’s lawyers Kelley Henry spoke to the Associated Press on Tuesday morning. She cites extensive testing and brain scans that evidence Montgomery’s diagnosis of mental illness. ‘You can’t fake brain scans that show brain damage,’ she said. Henry also said the relevant issue at the core of the legal arguments are not if Montgomery knew the killing was wrong in 2004, but whether she understands why she is to be executed. ‘I don’t believe she has any rational comprehension of what’s going on at all,’ Henry stated.
The execution go ahead came after hours of legal debate before the Supreme Court gave the go ahead for the execution to proceed. Montgomery was the first of the final three federal inmates scheduled to die before next week’s inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden.
Only current President Donald Trump held the power to grant her clemency and change her sentence to life in prison. If her lawyers had been successful in delaying her execution until after Biden takes office they could have achieved that goal. Biden has pledged to end the death penalty sentence on the federal level.
Federal executions had been discontinued for 17 years before Trump ordered them to resume earlier last year.
Reportedly a woman standing next to Montgomery during the execution process, removed the condemned woman’s face mask and asked her if she had any last words. Montgomery responded with a simple “no” and that was it. She was pronounced dead at 01.31 (06.31 GMT)
‘The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,’ Henry said in a statement. ‘Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.… She also said that everyone who had participated in the execution ‘should feel shame.’
Montgomery is the first female federal inmate to be put to death by the US government in 67 years.