Lisa Montgomery has new execution date scheduled by Justice Department

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The Justice Department on Monday night rescheduled the execution date for the only female on federal death row after a judge postponed her death because her lawyers contracted COVID-19.

Lisa Montgomery is now scheduled to be executed on Jan. 12, nearly a month after the original date of Dec. 8.

A federal judge last week postponed her execution because her lawyers tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting her in prison. The delay was to give her attorneys time to recover from the virus and file a clemency petition on her behalf.

Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell, who are representing Montgomery, said earlier this month they tested positive for COVID-19. An attorney arguing on their behalf described them as “not functional” because of their serious symptoms.

The new execution date would make Montgomery one of three federal inmates set to die that week. Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgins are scheduled to be executed on Jan. 14 and Jan. 15.

Sandra Babcock, an attorney representing Montgomery, said in a statement that her client’s mental state has been declining since the government first set an execution date.

“Now, despite Lisa’s deteriorating mental health and a much deeper understanding of the trauma she endured, the government plans to kill her. No other woman has been executed for a similar crime, because most prosecutors have recognized that it is inevitably the product of trauma and mental illness,” Ms. Babcock said.

Montgomery was convicted of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett in 2004. She used a robe to strangle Stinnett and then cut the baby from her womb with a kitchen knife. Montgomery kidnapped the child, but the girl was later recovered and survived the ordeal.

Since the Trump administration resumed the use of capital punishment after a 17-year hiatus, eight inmates have been put to death. Another inmate is scheduled to die at the end of the year, in addition to Montgomery and three other inmates with January execution dates.

If all the scheduled death sentences are carried out, the Trump administration will have executed 13 federal inmates in under a year, the most in U.S. history.
Democrats and advocacy groups have demanded the Trump administration halt federal executions during the transition period before presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden takes over in January.

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