US government to execute first woman since 1953

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The U.S. federal government, which continues its string of executions this year, has set dates for two more, including the first woman in more than six decades.

Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Dec. 8, according to the Department of Justice. In 2004, she was convicted of strangling a Missouri woman who was eight months pregnant, then cutting up and removing the baby.

The last woman executed by the US government was Bonnie Brown Heady on December 18, 1953, according to US Bureau of Prisons records, for kidnapping and murder.

Also in 1953, Ethel Rosenberg was executed for espionage, along with her husband, Julius.

Montgomery’s execution will be the Justice Department’s eighth execution this year after a hiatus of 17 hearings.

The ninth execution will be Brandon Bernard, who was convicted of the murder of two youth ministers on a military reservation in Texas in 1999. He is to be executed by lethal injection on December 10.

Bernard’s co-accused, Christopher Vialva, was executed on September 22.

Montgomery and Bernard are both being held at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Prior to this year, the federal government had not executed anyone since 2003, and only four since the 1960s, according to Bureau of Prisons records.

Lawyers for Montgomery and Bernard said their execution would be unfair.

Kelley Henry said her client Montgomery suffered from mental health problems, suffered horrific abuse as a child and was misrepresented at trial.

Bernard is a peaceful prisoner who was 18 at the time of the murders and had no history of violence, his lawyer Robert C. Owen said.

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