WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. government now plans to execute the first female detainee in almost six days in almost six days, before President-elect Joe Biden, an opponent of the death penalty, takes office.
Lisa Montgomery’s attorneys said Monday that the Justice Department has scheduled her execution for Jan. 12. Biden will inaugurate on January 20th.
A Washington federal judge has delayed the December execution of 49-year-old Montgomery because his lawyers showed a positive test after the new corona virus after being visited behind bars. The purpose of the delay was to allow his lawyers to recover from the virus and file a petition for pardon on his behalf.
Montgomery’s attorneys, Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell, said the result was both positive for COVID-19 after they flew from Nashville, Tennessee, to visit him at the Texas federal prison where he is serving his sentence. Court records said each round trip to Nashville included two flights, a hotel stay, and an interaction with airline and hotel staff and prison staff.
With the new execution date, Montgomery is one of three federal prisoners whose deaths were scheduled for the week. Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs are scheduled to die on January 14 and 15, while two more executions are scheduled for death in December.
After a 17-year hiatus, the Department of Justice continued federal executions this year. Eight people have been executed since July, more than in the previous half-century, despite declining public support for both Democrats and Republicans.
BJ spokesman TJ Ducklo said the president-elect “opposes the death penalty now and in the future” and would work as president to end its use. But Ducklo did not say whether the executions would be suspended immediately after Biden took office.
Montgomery was convicted in December 2004 of the murder of 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in Skidmore, northwest Missouri. He strangled eight-month-old Stinnett with a rope and then cut the little girl in the kitchen with a knife, authorities said. Montgomery took the child with him and tried to let the girl go on his own, prosecutors said.
Montgomery’s lawyers have argued that their client is suffering from severe mental illness.
– It is difficult to comprehend the extremes of horrors suffered in his earliest childhood, including for his friends raped by his stepfather for his use, sold by his own mother to groups of adult men, and repeatedly violently raped and ruthlessly beaten and neglected. No one intervened to help Lisa, although many knew what was happening to her, ”lawyer Sandra Babcock said in a statement.
“No other woman was executed for a similar crime because most prosecutors recognized that it was inevitably the result of trauma and mental illness,” Babcock said. “Executing Lisa Montgomery would cause another injustice to a woman who has known the mistreatment for a lifetime.”