A Kansas inmate convicted of murdering a young pregnant woman then cutting her open to steal her baby is scheduled to become the first woman executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years.
Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to be federally executed on Tuesday, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. If Montgomery is executed by lethal injection, it would mark the first federal execution of a woman since Bonnie Brown Heady was put to death in a gas chamber in 1953 for the kidnapping and killing of a 6-year-old Missouri boy.
In 2004, Montgomery strangled 23-year-old Barbara Jo Stinnett to death, then sliced her open and stole her unborn child. She drove from Kansas to the pregnant woman’s home in Skidmore, Missouri, then posed as a potential buyer of a puppy Stinnett was selling. Montgomery strangled Stinnett, who was 8 months pregnant, from behind until she passed out. She then used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from her womb.
Montgomery's ex-husband Carl Bowman testified at her trial that she'd claimed she was pregnant at least five times after she'd undergone a tubal ligation in 1990, according to a 2007 Associated Press report. Following the attack, Montgomery tried to pass off the baby as her own.
The prematurely born infant, Victoria Jo, survived and is now 16 years old. She has never spoken publicly about the circumstances surrounding her birth.
Activists have been urging President Donald Trump to call off the execution, citing Montgomery's mental health issues, which her lawyers say stem from childhood abuse. They have called the decision to execute her a “profound injustice.”
“Few human beings have lived through the kind of torture and trauma that was inflicted on Lisa Montgomery by her mentally ill, alcoholic mother,” veteran death penalty lawyer Kelley Henry told Oxygen.com in a statement in October.
Henry claims that Montgomery was a victim of sex trafficking when she was a child and as a girl was also gang-raped by several men.
“In the grip of her mental illness, Lisa committed a terrible crime,” Henry said. “Yet she immediately expressed profound remorse and was willing to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence with no possibility of release.”
While Montgomery is the first woman facing federal execution in nearly seven decades, she would be the ninth federal inmate to be put to death since the Department of Justice resumed capital punishment in July after a roughly two-decade hiatus.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told Oxygen.com in October that an "unprecedented" number of federal executions have taken place over the past year, while executions by states are at a 37-year low.
Brandon Bernard was one of the eight federal inmates who was recently executed. He was put to death in December for his involvement in a 1999 murder-kidnap scheme, which he was found guilty of as a teen. The execution went ahead despite the outcry of anti-death penalty advocates, including Kim Kardashian West. Federal officials have characterized the slew of executions as a form of justice for victims and their surviving relatives, according to the Associated Press.
Montgomery was initially scheduled to be put to death on Dec. 8, but her execution was halted because her attorneys contracted COVID-19 while meeting with her in prison.
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