First Woman to Face Federal Execution is Granted a Stay

A stay of execution has been granted for the only woman on federal death row.

Lisa Montgomery, who was convicted of a horrific crime in the 2004 murder of a pregnant woman, was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday. But a federal judge put a stop to the execution just hours before it was to take place at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

A Missouri jury handed down the death penalty to Montgomery in 2008 for the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old pregnant woman. Montgomery strangled Stinnett, cut the fetus out and kidnapped it. The baby, whom the murderer initially claimed was her own, survived and is now 16-years old.

Kelly Henry, who represents the convicted murderer, said her client has brain damage and mental illness brought on by a “lifetime of sexual torture she suffered at the hands of caretakers.” Henry cited the Eighth Amendment which prohibits the execution of people who, “due to their severe mental illness or brain damage, do not understand the basis for their execution.” Henry is hoping for the opportunity to prove her client's incompetence.

In the order, Judge James Hanlon of the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana wrote “Ms. Montgomery’s motion to stay execution is GRANTED to allow the Court to conduct a hearing to determine Ms. Montgomery’s competence to be executed.”

A date has not yet been set for the competency hearing.

Prosecutors have filed a notice to appeal the judge’s ruling.

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