The US will resume the federal execution of women for the first time in 70 years with one convicted of killing a pregnant woman and taking her baby

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The US will resume the federal execution of women for the first time in 70 years with one convicted of killing a pregnant woman and taking her baby




Lisa Montgomery will be executed on December 8th.


© Reuters
Lisa Montgomery will be executed on December 8th.


For the first time in almost 70 years, the United States will execute a convicted woman in the federal penal system.

As the Justice Department announced on Saturday, Lisa Montgomery, who strangled a pregnant woman in Missouri in 2004 before slitting her belly, removing her and abducting the baby, will receive a lethal injection on December 8.

The last woman to be executed by the United States government was Bonnie Heady, who died in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The federal execution of Brandon Bernard, who with his accomplices murdered two youth religious leaders in 1999, is also scheduled for December.

US Attorney General William Barr said the crimes for which these people will face capital punishment were “especially heinous murders.”

This year, the Trump administration announced that it would resume federal executions, which had been postponed for decades.

Who is Lisa Montgomery?

In December 2004, Montgomery drove from Kansas to Bobbie Jo Stinnett’s home in Missouri, supposedly to buy a dog.

“Once inside the residence, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, until the victim lost consciousness,” according to a press release from the Justice Department.

“Using a kitchen knife, Montgomery cut Stinnett’s abdomen, bringing him back to consciousness. A fight ensued and Montgomery strangled Stinnett to death,” he adds.


"We owe it to the victims and to the families," said Attorney General William Barr.


© Reuters
“We owe it to the victims and to the families,” said Attorney General William Barr.


Montgomery then removed the baby from Stinnett’s body, took the baby with her, and attempted to pass it off as her own.

In 2007, a jury found the woman guilty of federal kidnapping and murder and unanimously recommended the death penalty.

Montgomery’s attorneys say that as a child she suffered brain damage from the beatings she received at home and that she is mentally ill, so she should not face the death penalty.

What is the difference between federal and state executions?

Under the United States justice system, crimes can be tried in federal courts, at the national level, or in state courts, at the regional level.

Certain crimes, such as counterfeiting of currency or theft of mail, are automatically prosecuted at the federal level.

The death penalty was outlawed at the state and federal levels by a 1972 Supreme Court decision that canceled all existing statutes on the death penalty.

But another 1976 Supreme Court decision allowed states to reinstate the death penalty, and in 1988 the government passed legislation that made it available again at the federal level.


This is what an execution chamber looks like in Huntsville, Texas.


© Getty Images
This is what an execution chamber looks like in Huntsville, Texas.


According to data compiled by the Center for Information on the Death Penalty, 78 people were sentenced to death in federal cases between 1988 and 2018, but only three were executed.

Last July, the Trump administration resumed federal executions for the first time in 17 years.

The executions of Montgomery and Bernard will be the eighth and ninth carried out by the federal government this year.

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