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Execution of only woman on federal death row still might happen Tuesday despite last-minute rulings

Joseph Wilkinson, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, could still be executed Tuesday night despite multiple down-to-the-wire court rulings in her favor.

Montgomery, 52, got the death penalty in 2008 for killing a pregnant woman four years earlier and stealing her fetus. The baby survived.

Three federal courts have ordered a stay of Montgomery’s execution, but two of those rulings were overturned by Tuesday evening, the Associated Press reported.

A federal district court ruled Monday that Montgomery must undergo a mental health evaluation before she could be executed, but the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that decision Tuesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia also granted a stay, but it was overturned by the Supreme Court on Tuesday night, the AP reported. The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay earlier Tuesday, which the Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court as well.

Authorities at the Terre Haute, Indiana, prison that houses federal death row were proceeding Tuesday as if Montgomery would be executed, according to the AP. The Supreme Court has now ruled against Montgomery twice, also denying a petition directly to the court to review her case.


Montgomery was convicted of strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett to death in the small town of Skidmore, Missouri, on Dec. 16, 2004. Montgomery then cut open the 23-year-old Stinnett’s abdomen and stole her baby.

Attorneys for Montgomery argued she should not be eligible for the death penalty because she suffered from mental illnesses caused by childhood abuse.

Montgomery would be the first woman executed by the federal government since 1953.

President Donald Trump’s administration has executed 10 people since July, the most of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, though Roosevelt’s executions took place over eight years instead of seven months.

President-elect Joe Biden, scheduled to take office in eight days, opposes the death penalty.

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