The Federal Bureau of Prisons has rescheduled the execution of death row inmate Lisa Montgomery, 52, after a judge delayed the most recent execution date when two of her lawyers contracted the coronavirus.
According to USA Today, Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, has now been scheduled for a January 12, 2021, execution date, eight days before inauguration day. Montgomery, who was previously scheduled to be executed on December 8, was convicted more than a decade ago for the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old pregnant woman from Missouri.
According to court documents, Montgomery had traveled 150 miles to Stinnett’s home and fatally strangled her in order to kidnap her unborn child and raise the baby as her own. The baby survived the attack on Stinnett, and Montgomery was arrested days after telling her husband that she had given birth.
Attorney Kelly Henry, the public defender for Montgomery, said in a statement last month that her client has accepted responsibility for the crime. She also said that going through with an execution was a “profound injustice” because of her client’s “severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma,” according to The New York Times.
In recent days, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the media-projected winner of the election, has reaffirmed that he is against the death penalty, but has declined to answer whether he would immediately halt federal executions, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reports:
Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future,” press secretary TJ Ducklo said. He did not say whether executions would be paused immediately once Biden takes office.
Last year, Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to resume executions for death row inmates following a 17-year pause on federal executions. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” said Barr.
Biden also opposed the change at the time, tweeting: “Since 1973, over 160 individuals in this country have been sentenced to death and were later exonerated. Because we can’t ensure that we get these cases right every time, we must eliminate the death penalty.”
Since 1973, over 160 individuals in this country have been sentenced to death and were later exonerated. Because we can’t ensure that we get these cases right every time, we must eliminate the death penalty. https://t.co/o9LQHWwmt7
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 25, 2019
Daniel Lewis Lee, who was convicted of killing three members of an Arkansas family back in the 1990s, was the first person to be executed by the federal government after Barr ordered capital punishment to resume.
“Lee, a member of a white supremacist organization, brutally murdered William Frederick Mueller and Nancy Ann Mueller, along with her eight-year-old daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Powell,” said Barr. “After robbing and shooting them with a stun gun, Lee duct-taped plastic bags around their heads, weighed down each victim with rocks, and drowned the family in the Illinois bayou. On May 4, 1999, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas found Lee guilty of numerous offenses, including three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, and he was sentenced to death.”
“Today, Lee finally faced the justice he deserved,” continued Barr. “The American people have made the considered choice to permit capital punishment for the most egregious federal crimes, and justice was done today in implementing the sentence for Lee’s horrific offenses.”
Lee maintained his innocence up until his death, saying: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer … You’re killing an innocent man.”
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