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Only woman on federal death row to be executed after Supreme Court rulings

Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, was set to be put to death early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court denied three rulings by federal courts ordering a stay of execution.

Montgomery, 52, got the death penalty in 2008 for killing a pregnant woman four years earlier and stealing her fetus. The baby survived.

Three federal courts ordered a stay of Montgomery’s execution, but the nation’s highest court overturned the rulings, with the final decision coming at about midnight.

A federal district court ruled Monday that Montgomery should undergo a mental health evaluation before she is executed, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that decision Tuesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia also granted a stay, but it was overturned by the Supreme Court, the AP reported.

Death penalty opponents held out hope Tuesday night because the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay earlier in the day, but the Justice Department appealed that ruling, and the Supreme Court sided with the government just after midnight.

Authorities at the Terre Haute, Ind., prison that houses the federal death row proceeded Tuesday as if Montgomery would be executed, according to the AP. Media witnesses remained at the facility into Wednesday morning.

Montgomery was convicted of strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett to death in the small town of Skidmore, Missouri, on Dec. 16, 2004. Montgomery then cut open the 23-year-old Stinnett’s stomach and stole her baby.

Attorneys for Montgomery argued she should not be eligible for the death penalty because she suffered from mental illnesses caused by childhood abuse.

Montgomery would be the first woman executed by the federal government since 1953.

President Donald Trump’s administration has executed 10 people since July, the most of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, though Roosevelt’s executions took place over eight years instead of seven months.

President-elect Joe Biden, scheduled to take office in eight days, opposes the death penalty.

 

 

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