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US government executes first woman on death row in nearly 70 years

The US Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, cleared the way for her execution after overturning a stay by the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals

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US government | execution

Reuters 

Lisa Montgomery
Montgomery was convicted in 2007 for kidnapping & strangling a woman

The executed convicted murderer Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court cleared the last hurdle by overturning a stay. Montgomery was the first female prisoner to be executed in by the since 1953.

Challenges were fought across multiple federal courts on whether to allow the of Montgomery, 52, who was put to death by lethal injection of pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate in the Justice Department’s chamber at its prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The US Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, cleared the way for her after overturning a stay by the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kelley Henry, Montgomery’s lawyer, called the execution “vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.”

“No one can credibly dispute Mrs. Montgomery’s longstanding debilitating mental disease - diagnosed and treated for the first time by the Bureau of Prisons’ own doctors,” Henry said in a statement.

She was pronounced deceased at 1:31 am EST (0631 GMT) on Wednesday, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement.

Montgomery was convicted in 2007 in Missouri of kidnapping and strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, then eight months pregnant. Montgomery cut Stinnett’s fetus from the womb. The child survived. Some of Stinnett’s relatives traveled to witness Montgomery’s execution, the DOJ said.

As the execution process began, asked by a female executioner if she had any last words, Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice, “No,” according to a reporter who served as a media witness.

Federal executions had been on pause for 17 years and only three men had been executed by the federal government since 1963 until the practice resumed last year under President Donald Trump, whose outspoken support for capital punishment long predates his entry into politics.

Montgomery’s lawyers asked for Trump’s clemency last week, saying she committed her crime after a childhood in which she was abused and repeatedly raped by her stepfather and his friends, and so should instead face life in prison.

It was one of three executions the US Department of Justice had scheduled for the final full week of Trump’s administration.

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First Published: Thu, January 14 2021. 02:08 IST
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