A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the execution of a Kansas woman who killed a pregnant mother in 2004 after her attorneys contracted the coronavirus.
The order, handed down by U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss, prevents the Federal Bureau of Prisons from carrying out the execution of Lisa Montgomery before the end of the year, The Kansas City Star reported.
Montgomery, 52, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection on Dec. 8 at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, the newspaper reported. She is scheduled to be the first woman executed by the federal government in 67 years.
The last woman executed by the U.S. government was Bonnie Brown Heady on Dec. 18, 1953, according to U.S. Bureau of Prisons records. On June 19, 1953, Ethel Rosenberg was executed for espionage, along with her husband, Julius Rosenberg. Both were put to death in the electric chair.
Montgomery was convicted in October 2007 of one count of kidnapping resulting in death, the Star reported. She was convicted in the Dec. 16, 2004, strangling death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, of Skidmore, Missouri, according to federal court records.
Montgomery’s attorneys had asked for a delay of her execution after they contracted COVID-19 while visiting her in prison. Her lawyers, Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell, tested positive for COVID-19 after they flew to visit her at a Texas prison last month, according to The Associated Press.
One of Montgomery’s attorneys, Sandra L. Babcock, hailed the ruling as “a meaningful opportunity.”
According to federal prosecutors, in December 2004, Montgomery drove from her home in Melvern, Kansas, to Stinnett’s home, purportedly to buy a puppy, the Star reported. However, once inside the home, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett until the victim lost consciousness.
Using a kitchen knife, Montgomery cut into Stinnet’s abdomen, causing her to regain consciousness, according to the Star. The two women fought and Montgomery then strangled Stinnett to death, the newspaper reported.
Montgomery then cut the fetus from Stinnett’s womb and tried to pass the baby off as her own, according to the Star. The child was later safely recovered.
Stinnett’s death was carried out in “an especially heinous, cruel and depraved manner,” according to court records.
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