A judge has granted another reprieve in what was to be the US government’s first execution of an inmate in nearly seven decades.
Judge Patrick Hanlon granted the stay on Monday night, citing the need to determine Lisa Montgomery’s mental competence, Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Montgomery was executed Tuesday at the federal correctional complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, eight days before President-elect Joe Biden took office, opposing the federal death penalty.
She was convicted of the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, in the town of Skidmore, northwest Missouri, in December 2004.
Authorities said she used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, then cut the baby girl out of the womb with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to impersonate the girl as his own, prosecutors said.
Montgomery’s attorneys have argued that childhood sexual abuse led to mental illness. Lawyer Kelley Henry spoke out in favor of Monday’s ruling, saying in a statement to Capital-Journal that “Ms. Montgomery suffers from brain damage and serious mental illnesses which were exacerbated by the sexual torture she suffered suffered for life at the hands of guards ”.
His stepfather denied the sexual abuse in videotaped testimony and said he didn’t have a good memory when faced with a transcript of a divorce proceeding in which he admitted physical abuse. Her mother said she never filed a complaint with the police because he threatened her and her children.
Montgomery was originally scheduled to be put to death on December 8. But the execution was temporarily blocked after his lawyers contracted coronavirus visiting him in prison.
The resumption of federal executions after a 17-year hiatus began on July 14. Anti-death penalty groups have said President Donald Trump is pushing for executions ahead of the November election in a cynical attempt to build a reputation as a leader of law and order.
US officials have described the executions as bringing long-delayed justice to the victims and their families.