KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The US Supreme Court has rejected several attempts to postpone the execution of Lisa Montgomery and cleared the way for the federal government to execute the woman in Kansas.
Several judges granted Montgomery a postponement of the execution; the first came late Monday, less than 24 hours before she was originally to be killed.
But on Tuesday, an appeals court dismissed one, and the Supreme Court dismissed two others. The last one, in the 8th circuit court, was rejected around noon. 23 Tuesday.
Montgomery’s execution by fatal injection is now expected to take place overnight at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. She will be the first woman killed by the federal government in more than 60 years.
The 52-year-old was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in northwestern Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004.
She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby from the womb with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with him and tried to pass the girl on as his own. She was taken into custody the next day.
The baby that Montgomery cut from Stinnett’s uterus and detectives who were rescued turned just 16. She has never spoken in public, and the family has asked for privacy.
Details of the crime at times left jurors in tears during her trial.
Montgomery’s legal team says she suffered “sexual torture” as a child, including gang rapes, which permanently scarred her emotionally and exacerbated mental problems that ran in her family.
But during the trial, prosecutors accused her of falsifying her mental illness, arguing that Stinnett’s murder was premeditated and included careful planning, including online research into how to perform a C-section.
Her lawyer Kelley Henry discouraged the idea, citing extensive tests and brain scans that supported the diagnosis of mental illness.
Henry said the core of the legal arguments is not whether she knew the killing was wrong in 2004, but whether she fully understands why she is destined to be executed now.
“I do not think she has any rational understanding of what is going on,” Henry told the Associated Press.
And even hours before her planned execution, Montgomery’s lawyers kept arguing that she was not mentally competent and therefore should not be killed. Groups of women and organizations fighting the death penalty have been asking for several months to stop the execution.
Still, unless another court steps in at the last second to grant another stay, the federal government will execute Montgomery late Tuesday night or early Wednesday.
The last woman executed by the federal government was Bonnie Brown Heady on December 18, 1953 for kidnapping and murdering a 6-year-old boy in Missouri.
The last woman executed by a state was Kelly Gissendaner, 47, on September 30, 2015 in Georgia. She was convicted of the 1997 murder of her husband after she conspired with her boyfriend who stabbed Douglas Gissendaner to death.
FOX4 continues to cover Lisa Montgomery’s case online and on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
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