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Justice Department Reschedules Execution of Only Woman on Federal Death Row

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The U.S. government now plans to execute the first female inmate in almost six decades in January.

Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery said Monday that the Justice Department rescheduled her execution for Jan. 12.

A federal judge in Washington had delayed the December execution of Montgomery, 49, because her lawyers tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting her behind bars.

The delay was meant to allow her attorneys to recover from the virus and file a clemency petition on her behalf.

Montgomery’s attorneys, Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell, said they both tested positive for COVID-19 after they flew from Nashville, Tennessee, to visit her at the federal prison in Texas where she is serving her sentence.

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With the new execution date, Montgomery is one of three federal inmates scheduled to be put to death that week. Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs are scheduled to die on Jan. 14 and 15, while two other executions are slated for December.

The Justice Department resumed federal executions this year after a 17-year hiatus. Eight people have been executed since July, more than during the previous half-century.

TJ Ducklo, a spokesman for Joe Biden, has said the presumptive president-elect “opposes the death penalty now and in the future” and would work as president to end it.

Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in December 2004.

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She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby girl from her womb with a kitchen knife, authorities said.

Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass her off as her own, according to prosecutors.

Montgomery’s lawyers have argued that their client suffers from serious mental illnesses.

“It is difficult to grasp the extremity of the horrors Lisa suffered from her earliest childhood, including being raped by her stepfather, handed off to his friends for their use, sold to groups of adult men by her own mother and repeatedly gang raped, and relentlessly beaten and neglected. No one intervened to help Lisa, though many knew what was happening to her,” attorney Sandra Babcock said in a statement.

“No other woman has been executed for a similar crime, because most prosecutors have recognized that it is inevitably the product of trauma and mental illness,” Babcock said.

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“Executing Lisa Montgomery would be yet another injustice inflicted on a woman who has known a lifetime of mistreatment.”


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