Lisa Montgomery may ESCAPE death row execution once death penalty-opposing Biden takes office
A DEATH row inmate who brutally slayed a pregnant friend before cutting out and kidnapping her baby could be saved from execution once Joe Biden is president.
Lisa Montgomery, known as "the womb raider," was convicted of strangling a pregnant woman to death, then savagely slicing open her body to retrieve the unborn child, in Missouri in 2004.
On Monday night, a federal judge in Indiana blocked Montgomery's execution on mental health grounds just hours before she was due to become the first woman put to death by the federal government in almost 70 years.
The decision was later upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, pushing any new execution date into Biden’s administration unless the Supreme Court now intervenes.
Biden opposes the death penalty and his spokesman, TJ Ducklo, previously said he would work to end its use.
He did not, however, say whether executions would immediately stop after Biden becomes president.
The killer's lawyers recently asked Donald Trump for clemency, saying she committed the crimes after a lifetime of being abused and raped.
In a nearly 7,000-page clemency petition filed last week, they asked the president to commute Montgomery’s sentence to life in prison.
However, Trump has been a staunch supporter of capital punishment. The federal government under his administration executed 10 people in 2020 alone, more than all of the states combined.
Judge James Patrick Hanlon's decision to block Montgomery's lethal injection planned for today was based on evidence that she was unable to understand the government’s rationale for her execution.
The judge granted the stay of execution to allow the court to conduct a hearing to determine whether she is competent to be executed.
Montgomery’s lawyer, Kelley Henry, welcomed the ruling and said the court was right to put a stop to her execution.
“Mrs Montgomery is mentally deteriorating and we are seeking an opportunity to prove her incompetence,” Henry said in a statement.
Only five states carried out executions in 2020, and only one – Texas – carried out more than one.
The federal government is set to carry out two more executions – Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs – before Trump leaves office on January 20.
Montgomery would be only the fifth woman put to death by the US government in history if her execution eventually moves forward.
The last woman to be executed by the government was Bonnie Heady, who died in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953.
Montgomery was convicted of murder in the horrific 2004 attack of 23-year-old dog breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett.
She reportedly pretended to be a pregnant woman named "Darlene Fischer" to bond with Stinnett, and went to her home pretending she wanted to buy a dog.
"Once inside the residence, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett – who was eight months pregnant – until the victim lost consciousness," the Department of Justice said.
She then began cutting into the victim's abdomen, the DOJ said. When Stinnett regained consciousness, Montgomery strangled her to death before removing the baby.
The child miraculously survived and Montgomery tried to pass the baby off as her own, even telling her husband she had given birth.
When Montgomery was taken in, the baby was given back to her father. She's now 16 years old.
Montgomery's legal team has insisted that she was not represented properly in her previous trials, according to Metro.
They argue that while there is no question of her guilt, her severe mental health issues and extreme sexual abuse she was subject to as a child was not taken into account.
“It is difficult to grasp the extremity of the horrors Lisa suffered from her earliest childhood, including being raped by her stepfather, handed off to his friends for their use, sold to groups of adult men by her own mother and repeatedly gang raped, and relentlessly beaten and neglected. No one intervened to help Lisa, though many knew what was happening to her,” attorney Sandra Babcock previously said in a statement.
“No other woman has been executed for a similar crime, because most prosecutors have recognized that it is inevitably the product of trauma and mental illness,” Babcock said. "Executing Lisa Montgomery would be yet another injustice inflicted on a woman who has known a lifetime of mistreatment.”
In December, UN human rights experts called for clemency to be granted toMontgomery after the US rescheduled her execution for January 2021 amid concerns that she received inadequate legal assistance and her previous trauma and mental health were not adequately considered during the trial.
“Ms. Montgomery was the victim of an extreme level of physical and sexual abuse throughout her life against which the State never provided protection and for which it failed to offer remedies. She suffered from several mental health conditions which the State failed to care for. When it came to the capital proceedings, the State betrayed her yet again, neglecting to consider these essential and determining facts as mitigating circumstances,” the experts said.
“International standards are clear – the death penalty is always arbitrary and unlawful when the court ignores or discounts essential facts that may have significantly influenced a capital defendant’s motivations, situation and conduct. Such facts include exposure to domestic violence and other abuse. A death sentence carried out in contravention of a Government’s international obligations amounts to an arbitrary execution.
“We call for Lisa Montgomery to be granted clemency.”
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