The U.S. is set to execute a female federal prisoner for the first time in 67 years, Donald Trump’s justice department said.
Lisa Montgomery, who strangled a Missouri woman in 2004 and stole her unborn baby, is set to die by a deadly injection in a U.S. jail in Terre Haute, Indiana, on December 8.
Montgomery, whose lawyers have long argued he suffered brain damage from being beaten as a child and suffering from psychosis and other mental conditions, will be the first woman murdered by the United States government from at Bonny Brown Heady in December 1953. Heady was convicted of kidnapping and killing the six-year-old heir of an automobile tycoon. Along with his girlfriend, he was killed in a gas chamber.
Attorney General William Barr announced the decision to proceed with the execution of Montgomery, 52, in a statement detailing a December 10 execution date for Brandon Bernard, 40, who along with two accomplices was convicted of murder in two church ministers in Texas in 1999.
Barr said the crimes were “especially heinous killings”. Montgomery, who cut Bobby Jo Stinnett’s belly and took his daughter, is the only woman among 55 federal prisoners awaiting execution, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Under Barr, seven murders of federal prisoners have taken place since July. Prior to this, only three inmates have been killed since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1998, the Oklahoma City bombing of Timothy McVeigh and another in 2001, another two years later.
In state prisons, 16 women have been executed since a 1976 Supreme Court decision lifted the moratorium on the death penalty across the US. The latest was in September 2015, when Kelly Renee Gissendaner received a deadly injection in Georgia for the 1997 murder of her husband.
Montgomery’s attorney Kelley Henry attacked Barr’s decision as an “injustice”.
“In the grip of her mental illness, Lisa committed a heinous crime,” Henry, an assistant public defender in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a statement. “However, he immediately expressed deep remorse and was willing to ask for sin in exchange for a life sentence with no possibility of release.
“Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime, and she will never leave prison. But her severe mental illness and the devastating effects of her childhood trauma have made her implement a serious injustice. “
Now 16, Stinnett’s daughter Victoria Jo, was raised by her father. In 2004, Montgomery’s wife said she did not realize the baby her husband had brought home was not theirs.
“I have no idea,” Kevin Montgomery said. “I am sure [the Stinnett family] get as much support from their church and community as I have because we will all need it. “