An American woman who murdered a pregnant dog breeder in order to steal her baby was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday, becoming the first woman to be executed by US federal authorities in nearly seven decades.
The US Department of Justice said Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. eastern time (6:31 GMT) in a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
He said the execution was “in accordance with the death penalty unanimously recommended by a federal jury and imposed by the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri.”
The United States Supreme Court cleared the way for Montgomery’s execution hours earlier – despite doubts about his mental state – after President Donald Trump’s government lobbied for the death penalty .
Defenders for Montgomery have not denied the seriousness of her crime: in 2004, she killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman in order to steal her baby.
But her lawyer Kelley Henry, in a statement, called the decision – the first for an inmate since 1953 – a “vicious, illegal and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.”
“The cowardly bloodlust of a failing administration was on full display tonight,” Henry said. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should be ashamed of themselves.”
The execution took place after a legal back and forth which ended with the highest court in the country allowing it to proceed.
Unable to have a child, Montgomery carefully identified his victim – 23-year-old dog breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett – online.
Under the guise of buying a puppy, Montgomery went to Stinnett’s, where she strangled her and cut the baby from her body.
In 2007, she was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death and sentenced to death.
Her advocates believe she suffered from serious mental health problems resulting from the abuse she suffered as a child. She did not understand the meaning of his sentence, they said, a precondition for execution.
On Monday evening, a federal judge offered the defense a brief lifeline, 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 far removed from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s justification for her execution,” the ruling said.
But an appeals court overturned the decision on Tuesday, leaving it to the US Supreme Court to decide. He said the execution could take place.
Clemency request ignored
Trump, like his many Conservative voters, is a strong supporter of the death penalty and has ignored a call for clemency from Montgomery supporters.
Despite the decline in the death penalty in the United States and around the world, the Trump administration resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus, and enforce them at an unprecedented rate since.
Since the summer, 10 Americans have died by lethal injection in Terre Haute. Besides Montgomery, two men are due to be executed by the federal government this week. Their executions were suspended on Tuesday because they had contracted Covid-19.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on Monday announced the introduction of legislation to end federal executions. It could pass once President-elect Joe Biden takes office next week and Democrats regain control of the Senate.
In a scathing statement, Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun known for her activism against the death penalty, spoke over the weekend of federal prosecutors “working all day and all night” to counter appeals from federal inmates.
“You might not have to see the fear or smell the sweat in the execution chamber, but your hand is in there,” Prejean wrote, urging them to “just say” no “this week to the work to have a woman and two men executed the week before Biden’s inauguration.
Former guards at Terre Haute penitentiary have written to the Justice Department asking that the executions be postponed until prison staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.
Between executioners, guards, witnesses and lawyers, an execution brings together dozens of people in an enclosed environment, which is conducive to the spread of the virus.
U.S. states, including deeply conservative Texas, have suspended executions for months due to the pandemic – unlike the federal government, which pushed for many to be executed before Trump stepped down.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)