US to execute woman who killed victim, cut baby from womb

US to execute woman who killed victim, cut baby from womb

Lisa Montgomery cut baby from mother's womb
In this handout photo provided by the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department, Lisa Montgomery appears in a booking photo released Dec 20, 2004 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images/AFP)

WASHINGTON: A woman convicted of fatally strangling a pregnant woman, cutting her body open and kidnapping her baby is scheduled to be the first female inmate put to death by the US government in almost 70 years, the Justice Department said Friday (Oct 16).

Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Dec 8 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She will be the ninth federal inmate to put to death since the Justice Department resumed executions in July after a nearly 20-year hiatus.

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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Montgomery drove from her Kansas home to Stinnett’s house in Skidmore under the guise of adopting a rat terrier puppy, prosecutors said.

When she arrived at the home, Montgomery used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, but Stinnett was conscious and trying to defend herself as Montgomery used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from the womb, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Montgomery removed the baby from Stinnett’s body, took the child with her, and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.

Montgomery’s lawyers argued that she had been suffering from delusions when she killed Stinnett, but a jury rejected her defense. Her lawyers had also argued that she was suffering from pseudocyesis, which causes a woman to falsely believe she is pregnant and exhibit outward signs of pregnancy.

In 2007, a US District Court for the Western District of Missouri sentenced Montgomery to death after finding her guilty of a federal kidnapping resulting in death.

Her attorney, Kelley Henry, said that Montgomery deserves to live because she is mentally ill and suffered childhood abuse.

"Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime, and she will never leave prison," Henry said in a statement. "But her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice."

The last woman to be executed by the US government was Bonnie Heady, who was put to death in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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The Justice Department on Friday also scheduled the execution of a man convicted in the 1999 killing of two youth ministers in Texas. Brandon Bernard, 40, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Dec 10.

Bernard and his co-defendant, Christopher Vialva, were convicted in the 1999 kidnapping and killing of Todd and Stacie Bagley, an Iowa couple who had stopped to use a payphone in Killeen, Texas.

The couple agreed to give Vialva and two others a ride, authorities said. Vialva pulled out a gun, forced the couple into the trunk and drove around for several hours, stopping at ATMs to withdraw cash and attempting to pawn the woman’s wedding ring, according to prosecutors. Both the victims were shot in the head and placed in the trunk of their car, which then was set on fire.

Vialva was executed last month at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute.

READ: US carries out first execution in 17 years after overnight Supreme Court ruling

The resumption of federal executions started Jul 14, with the execution of former white supremacist Daniel Lewis Lee. Since then, six others have been put to death and another man, Orlando Hall, is scheduled to be executed next month.

Anti-death penalty groups say President Donald Trump is pushing for executions during the campaign season in a bid to burnish a reputation a law-and-order leader.

Before the resumptions of executions this summer, federal authorities had executed just three prisoners in the previous 56 years.

Source: AP/aj

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