Lisa Montgomery, the only female inmate on federal death row in the United States, was executed on Wednesday morning, according to authorities. The 52-year-old was executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana on Wednesday.
Montgomery is also the first woman to be executed by the federal government since 1953. Her execution comes after a last-minute stay of execution was lifted by the US Supreme Court recently. With this, Montgomery became the 11th person to be put to death since July 2020 when the Justice Department resumed executions after a gap of almost two decades.
End of a Long Battle
According to witnesses, a woman standing next to Montgomery during the execution process, removed the inmate's face mask and asked her if she had any last words or wish. Montgomery responded "no", and said nothing else. Following that, she was injected with the lethal injection and pronounced dead at 1.31 am on Wednesday.
Her Kelley Henry, said that everyone who had participated in the execution "should feel shame".
Montgomery, also known as the 'Womb Raider' was earlier scheduled to be executed on December 8 but it got postponed twice. The first time it was due to Covid-19 and second time after her lawyers appealed for a stay on grounds that she was mentally ill.
In a last ditch effort, her attorneys made another appeal for a stay on the execution at an appeals court argued that she should have been given a competency hearing to prove her severe mental illness, which would have made her ineligible for the death penalty.
However, that was turned down by the Supreme Court. "The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman," her attorney, Kelley Henry, said in a statement. "Lisa Montgomery's execution was far from justice."
The Debate Continues
Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2008 by a Missouri jury for strangling and killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, an eight-month pregnant woman in 2004. Prosecutors said she used a kitchen knife to remove Stinnett's baby from her womb. The baby miraculously survived. She then took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own. After that, she was arrested and tried.
Even at that time, Montgomery's lawyers had argued that she was suffering from delusions when she killed Stinnett, but the jury rejected the defense. Montgomery's lawyers had constantly argued that she deserved to live because she was mentally ill and suffered childhood abuse.
In a dramatic turn of events on Monday, an Indiana judge stayed the execution until a mental competency hearing could be held. Her lawyers argued that she had been born brain-damaged and was too mentally ill to be executed. They also said that she would be regularly sexually harassed by her father as a child and was trafficked by her mother.
Her lawyers believe that at the time of her crime, Montgomery was psychotic and out of touch with reality. However, the victim's family have time and again argued that the murder committed by Montgomery was so horrific that she deserved to be put to death regardless of her mental health.
On Wednesday, Montgomery became the first woman to be executed in a US federal prison since Bonnie Heady, who was executed by the US government, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Heady was put to death in a gas chamber in 1953.