A federal appeals court has lifted the execution stay for Lisa Montgomery, the only female on federal death row.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss previously vacated an order that scheduled Montgomery for execution on January 12, which was a new date after the court rescheduled her first execution, which was set for December 2020. The first execution was postponed after two of Montgomery’s lawyers contracted COVID-19.
The Justice Department guidelines require notification to a death row inmate at least 20 days before the execution. Moss also indicated that the execution shouldn’t have been scheduled while a stay was in place.
Fox News reports that Montgomery’s execution is again scheduled for January 12. after a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed down the ruling on Friday. The court concluded that Moss made an error when he vacated Montgomery’s execution date.
Montgomery was sentenced to die for the 2004 murder of pregnant 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, whose baby Montgomery cut out of her with a carving knife, at Stinnett’s home in Skidmore, Missouri.
Montgomery, who was faking her own pregnancy, met Stinnett online while feigning interest in purchasing a dog. The two women arranged to meet on December 16, 2004, at Stinnett’s home in regards to buying a rat terrier.
Investigators believe that once Montgomery was inside the home, she cut Stinnett’s baby from her womb and strangled Stinnett with a rope.
Prosecutors previously stressed that they believe that Stinnett was conscious and fighting to defend herself while Montgomery used a kitchen knife to cut the baby out of Stinnett’s stomach, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
Stinnett’s own mother found her bleeding in her living room hours after the attack and contacted 911.
“She is laying on the floor with blood everywhere,” mother Becky Harper told a 911 dispatcher. “She was pregnant. … It’s like her guts have exploded or something.”
The baby, a girl, survived but Montgomery tried to pretend she was hers.
Police arrested Montgomery the following day at her home in Melvern, Kansas. They found Stinnett’s baby inside Montgomery’s home, with Montgomery holding the baby in her arms while watching the news about the missing baby flash across a television screen.
The baby, now a 16-year-old old, was returned to her father.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Montgomery devised a story of how she had gone into labor while on a shopping trip, even though she had undergone tubal ligation in 1990.
Nodaway County Sheriff Randy Strong, who worked the case since the beginning, said that the brutal murder and kidnapping had been “meticulously planned,” News-Press Now reports.
Montgomery’s lawyers, however, say that previous childhood sexual abuse and trauma are partly to blame for the incident. They feel that a prison transfer would subject Montgomery to more abuse by men.
“The armed guards that have transported death row prisoners at FCC Terre Haute have been all male, dressed in body armor and helmets, and carrying military weapons,” the lawsuit states.
“Transferring a woman who is mentally ill — because of years of abuse at the hands of men — to an all-male maximum security prison, where she will be surrounded male prisoners and constantly surveilled by male guards without the required training or experience with respect to female prisoners, will have a foreseeable and catastrophic impact on Mrs. Montgomery.”
According to ACLU, Montgomery’s issues started at birth, when she was born with permanent brain damage due to her mother’s excessive alcohol drinking during pregnancy.
The ACLU argued that Montgomery was tortured and abused as a child. She was often made to take cold showers and beaten with numerous items. Her mother allegedly taped her mouth shut so Montgomery couldn’t talk.
Montgomery was later raped, according to ACLU, and warned not to say anything unless she wanted it to happen to her younger sister. At age 15, Montgomery was forced into sex trafficking by her own mother, the lawsuit alleged.
Montgomery began mentally disassociating to help her survive, the lawsuit stated. When her mother remarried while Montgomery was in high school, the man allegedly beat and raped Montgomery.
ACLU also contended that Montgomery’s current prison is “re-torturing” her as she awaits her death sentence. The prison is accused of forcing Montgomery to take cold showers, denying her undergarments, talking cruelly to her, and leaving lights on 24/7.
The government responded to the lawsuit and stated Montgomery’s issues regarding the prison transfer and “speculative and unfounded.”
The government added that Montgomery is “not entitled to micromanage the conditions of her confinement for her own comfort and convenience.”
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[Feature Photo: Lisa Montgomery & Bobbie Jo Stinnett/Police Handout; Handout]