A judge may force the Trump administration’s Justice Department to schedule the only woman on federal death row’s execution for when after President-elect Biden takes office.
US District Court Judge Randolph Moss told lawyers representing Lisa Montgomery and the Justice Department that he was vacating an order from the Bureau of Prisons director rescheduling the execution for Jan. 12.
That date was set by Moss in November, after Montgomery’s attorneys contracted coronavirus and asked for an extension in order to file a clemency petition.
The problem, according to the federal judge, was that the rescheduling was done while a stay was in place, something that is prohibited.
“The Court, accordingly, concludes that the Director’s order setting a new execution date while the Court’s stay was in effect was ‘not in accordance with law,’” Moss wrote to both counsels.
Montgomery was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007 for the 2004 slaying of 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was 8-months pregnant at the time.
Montgomery strangled Stinnett with a rope, before taking a kitchen knife and cutting out and kidnapping the baby. That child survived and was returned to her father.
Montgomery has bipolar disorder, temporal lobe epilepsy, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorder, psychosis, traumatic brain injury and most likely fetal alcohol syndrome.
She was 13 when she began being raped by her step-father. When caught by her mother at 14 being sexually abused by the man, according to appeal filings by lawyers obtained by The Guardian, her mother held a gun to her head.
Montgomery’s lawyers want President Trump to commute her sentence from death to life in prison, though it is unclear if the appeal is being considered.
“Given the severity of Mrs. Montgomery’s mental illness, the sexual and physical torture she endured throughout her life, and the connection between her trauma and the facts of her crime, we appeal to President Trump to grant her mercy, and commute her sentence to life imprisonment,” attorney Sandra Babcock said in a statement.
Biden has pledged to end the death penalty, but it is unclear what he will do about executions that have been scheduled by the previous administration.
With Post wires