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U.S. executes Lisa Montgomery, only woman on federal death row

Lisa Montgomery was executed by lethal injection early Wednesday at U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Photo by Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department/EPA-EFE
Lisa Montgomery was executed by lethal injection early Wednesday at U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Photo by Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department/EPA-EFE

Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, was executed by lethal injection early Wednesday for the 2004 killing of a pregnant woman.

Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., making her the first person executed by the federal government in 2021 and the 11th since the Trump administration resumed federal executions following a 17-year-hiatus last year.

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"The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight," Kelley Henry, Montgomery's attorney, said in a statement. "Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame."

Montgomery's death followed a flurry of litigation on Tuesday that culminated in the Supreme Court near midnight clearing the way for her execution by vacating one stay and denying the petition for another that Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they would have granted.

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Montgomery's legal team had argued for the stay, saying their client, who was a victim of sexual abuse, was mentally unfit, making her execution unconstitutional.

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"No one disagrees that Mrs. Montgomery was the victim of unspeakable torture and sex trafficking. No one can credibly dispute Mrs. Montgomery's longstanding debilitating mental disease -- diagnosed and treated for the first time by the Bureau of Prisons' own doctors," Henry said. "Our Constitution forbids the execution of a person who is unable to rationally understand her execution. The current administration knows this. And they killed her anyway."

Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2007 for the 2004 killing of Bobbie Joe Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant. Montgomery, having visited the Stinnett home purportedly to purchase a puppy, strangled her victim and cut the unborn baby from her body in order to pass if off as her own.

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The female infant was later returned to her father unharmed.

In October, the Justice Department announced it had scheduled Montgomery's execution for Dec. 8, but the day was moved to Tuesday after two of her attorneys were diagnosed with COVID-19.

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