January 24, 2021
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U.S. Executes First Woman In Nearly 70 Years After Supreme Court Lifts Last-Minute Stay

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Topline

The U.S. government executed Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, for murder early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court overturned a last-minute stay on execution over concerns that her mental state prevent her from fully understanding her sentence , marking the latest in a series of executions scheduled during the last days of the Trump administration.       

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Lisa Montgomery was the first woman executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years (Photo by … [+] Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

In 2004, Montgomery, from Kansas, strangled a pregnant woman before cutting out the fetus and passing off the surviving child as her own.

While Montgomery’s legal team did not dispute the brutality of her crime or try to excuse her actions, they said brain damage, severe childhood trauma and mental illness prevented her from understanding her death sentence and appealed against the sentence. 

A federal court stayed the execution Monday to give time for a comprehensive mental assessment, stating that there was “ample evidence that Ms. Montgomery’s current mental state is so divorced from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s rationale for her execution.” 

Lawyers from the Department of Justice attorneys called the appeals “unwarranted” obstacles to carry out justice for a “crime of staggering brutality.”

The Supreme Court cleared the last remaining hurdle to Montgomery’s execution Tuesday, siding with the Trump administration and allowing the execution to proceed.

The 52-year-old was declared dead at 1:31am Wednesday after receiving a lethal injection of pentobarbital at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, making her the first female inmate to be executed since 1953. 

Crucial Quote

“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight,” said Montgomery’s lawyer, Kelley Henry. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame.” Henry reiterated Montgomery’s mental issues: “The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,” Henry said. “Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”

Key Background

President Donald Trump, an outspoken advocate of capital punishment, resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year federal hiatus. The administration has been embarking on an effort to carry them out before Trump’s term ends in January and the government has executed more people in 2020 than any year since 1896. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to put an end to federal executions when he takes office.  

Further Reading

Lisa Montgomery first female inmate to be executed in U.S. in nearly 70 years (Axios)

The US government has executed 10 people this year — the most since 1896 (CNN)

14 Federal Death Row Inmates Have Reportedly Tested Positive For Covid-19 (Forbes)

US carries out its 1st execution of female inmate since 1953 (AP)