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Only Woman On US Federal Death Row Has Execution Halted

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Only Woman On US Federal Death Row Has Execution Halted

The only woman on US federal death row has had her execution halted.

Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering a mother and kidnapping her baby.

However, a judge has now given her a stay of execution, stating the need to determine her mental competence.

She was due to be executed today (12 January) at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, but psychiatrists will now review her mental faculties.

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According to reports, Montgomery had a history of phantom pregnancies and had also undergone an operation that prevented her from becoming pregnant.

Her lawyer claims she also suffered severe beatings as a child, which caused her some brain damage.

Lisa Montgomery is the only woman on federal death row. Credit: Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department.
Lisa Montgomery is the only woman on federal death row. Credit: Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department.

Montgomery, from Missouri, was convicted in 2007 of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett.

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She strangled Ms Stinnett and cut out her eight-month-old foetus, pretending it was her child before she was arrested.

She was due to be executed on 8 December 2020, but a judge ruled for a delay after her attorneys were diagnosed with Covid-19.

In a clemency petition to President Donald Trump, Montgomery's lawyer cited her severe mental health issues as reasons for her life to be spared and her sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

It read: "Broken before she was born, Lisa Montgomery's life was filled with torture, terror, failure, and betrayal.

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"Had just one person intervened, all of this could have been avoided. But they did not. And so now you are faced with the awesome responsibility of deciding whether Lisa Montgomery lives or dies."

According to reports, mental health experts who have examined her in the past say they believe Montgomery began to dissociate with reality when she was a child in order to survive the sexual violence she suffered.

Montgomery was due to be executed today (12 January). Credit: PA
Montgomery was due to be executed today (12 January). Credit: PA

Katherine Porterfield, a clinical psychologist at the Bellevue/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture, told Huff Post this is common among children who have gone through trauma.

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She said: "Lisa Montgomery developed into a person who had profound disconnection from her body, from her mind, from her experience.

"Those were disconnections that were tragic in their consequences. But they were what we come to understand as neuro-physiological adaptations to survive being constantly under assault."

A petition has also been set up, pleading with Trump to stop her execution.

It reads: "Lisa was sentenced to death by a jury that was never informed of the full extent and impact of the sexual violence and physical abuse she endured.

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"As a result of her trauma, she is now so mentally ill that she must receive multiple medications to prevent full-blown psychosis.

"We also ask you at a minimum to grant a stay of execution. We believe Lisa deserves a full and fair opportunity to petition the courts to stay her execution, as well as an opportunity to present comprehensive arguments to you and your administration as to why her death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment.

"This cannot happen in the midst of a global pandemic."

Topics: Death Penalty, US News, crime

Dominic Smithers
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