US executes Lisa Montgomery for 2004 murder

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Women are rare on death row in the United States. According to a quarterly report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, only 2% of death row inmates are women. With Ms. Montgomery’s execution, there are no more women on federal death row.

The last women to be executed by the federal government were Bonnie Brown Heady for kidnapping and murder and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage, both in 1953.

Ms Montgomery’s execution was originally slated for last month. But after two of his lawyers contracted the coronavirus, a judge delayed him and the Department of Justice postponed it.

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In her final days, Ms. Montgomery found a brief reprieve in court. Her lawyers had claimed she was incompetent to execute, citing mental illness, neurological impairment and complex trauma. An Indiana federal judge issued a stay Monday evening so the court could hold a hearing to determine its jurisdiction. But a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned that stay on Tuesday, writing Ms Montgomery’s claim could have been filed earlier. The judges also cited the Supreme Court precedent, which stresses that last minute suspensions of execution “should be the extreme exception, not the norm”.

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Yet other court orders continued to block his execution well past the provisional execution time set by the Bureau of Prisons at 6 p.m. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled a separate stay so the court can hear his complaint about the Federal Death Penalty Act and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals have issued their own stays.

But the Supreme Court paved the way for execution, as it did for the previous 10 inmates executed by the Trump administration. On Monday, the court overturned the two suspensions, remaining obstacles to her execution, and dismissed each of Ms. Montgomery’s stay requests.

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In a lengthy statement, Ms Montgomery’s long-time lawyer Kelley Henry argued the government broke the law by executing her client, who suffered from “debilitating mental illness.” Beyond the crime for which she expressed remorse and the abuse she suffered, Ms Henry said Ms Montgomery was a Christian who adored her family.

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