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huffpost – Trump administration executes single woman on federal death row

The Trump administration executed Lisa Montgomery, 52, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, ending the tortured life of the only woman sentenced to death at the federal level.

Government killed Montgomery with lethal injection of pentobarbital despite the objections of her lawyers that her mental state made her incompetent for enforcement.

Montgomery, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features and complex post-traumatic stress disorder, had lost touch with reality and was unable to understand what was going on, his lawyers wrote in court records before. his death. In the days leading up to her execution, she had auditory hallucinations from her abusive mother’s voice, her lawyers said, and she believed God was speaking to her through connected puzzles.

She was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the first woman to be executed by the federal government in almost 70 years.

“The cowardly bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight,” Kelley Henry, one of Montgomery’s attorneys, said in a statement. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should be ashamed of themselves.”

Montgomery was a classic example of the powerful effect of child abuse. On the Adverse childhood experiences scale, which is the trauma suffered by a child before the age of 18, she scored a 9 out of 10.

According to reports from family members, her mother beat her and denied her any form of affection. Her stepfather started assaulting her when she was 11 years old. He later built a room on the side of a trailer to isolate it from the family for the purpose of sexual violence. Even after Montgomery’s mother intervened on her husband raping her daughter, she did not report it to authorities. Montgomery told a cousin at the time that her parents also allowed other men to rape her in exchange for work in the house.

Experts who evaluated Montgomery believe she began to disassociate herself from reality to survive the extreme trauma of her childhood.

“Lisa’s childhood, in which she was brutally beaten, humiliated and ultimately raped for several years by a stepfather, created the conditions for her to develop deeply distorted perceptions of interpersonal relationships, human emotions and even his own body, ”wrote Katherine Porterfield, a clinical psychologist with the Bellevue / New York University Program for Survivors of Torture who examined Montgomery in prison. “These developmental disabilities have had tragic consequences in the life of this woman and the lives of those around her.

Montgomery was sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, an eight month pregnant woman. Montgomery strangled Stinnett and removed the fetus, pretending to friends and family that the baby was his.

The little girl was rescued the next day and returned to her father’s house. The child, now 16, has not spoken publicly about the incident.

Montgomery’s attorneys claim their client killed Stinnett during a psychotic episode. Since her arrest, she has received medication and psychiatric treatment. She was held in a Texas prison for women with special mental health needs prior to her execution.

The crime of fetal abduction is extremely rare.

Researchers at the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide have been able to find only 16 cases of similar crimes in the United States in the past 35 years. In most cases, the perpetrator was a woman with a documented mental illness.

Montgomery’s execution follows a wave of last-minute legal exchanges between his lawyers and the Department of Justice.

Three separate federal courts have issued a stay of execution in the hours leading up to Montgomery’s killing.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana was receptive to Montgomery’s claim that she was not competent to be killed and temporarily blocked her execution pending a skills assessment. The government appealed and the stay of execution was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The other two suspensions, which involved legal action, were overturned by the United States. Supreme Court, clearing the way for the government to proceed with the execution.

Montgomery was the 11th person executed under the Trump administration, which revived the federal death penalty last summer amid the coronavirus pandemic. Before Trump took office, the last federal execution was in 2003.

Holding executions during a pandemic has created foreseeable problems.

Montgomery’s two lawyers contracted COVID-19 after traveling to visit him in prison to prepare his pardon request. His execution was originally scheduled for December 8 but was temporarily blocked to give his lawyers time to recover. Others, like death row inmate Orlando Hall’s spiritual advisor, contracted the coronavirus after witnessing an execution.

The Trump administration had planned to execute two more people last week – Corey Johnson on Thursday and Dustin Higgs on Friday. But oOn Tuesday, a federal judge halted their executions due to their recent COVID-19 illnesses. The two men contracted the coronavirus in December during a massive outbreak at the federal correctional complex where the death row is located.

The men argued in court that their lung damage from the coronavirus was likely to make their executions excruciatingly painful, violating constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The government is appealing the temporary stay.

President-elect Joe Biden, due to be inaugurated in a week, is opposed to the death penalty and has said he will work to end its use. He is expected to suspend federal executions once he takes office.

Henry, Montgomery’s lawyer, said she was disappointed that outgoing President Donald Trump did not commute Montgomery’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“He did not even have the decency to formally deny – or even acknowledge – Lisa’s request for leniency, although it is difficult to imagine a case more deserving of intervention by the executive than this one” , she said in a statement. “This failed government adds to the long list of people and institutions that failed Lisa.


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