‘Christmas miracle’? Death penalty protesters rejoice as execution of woman who carved baby out of her victim’s womb delayed
A judge’s ruling delaying the first federal execution of a US woman in nearly seven decades may buy her enough time to run out the clock on Donald Trump’s presidency, enabling President-elect Joe Biden to take her off death row.
The execution of Lisa Montgomery – who was convicted in 2007 of strangling a pregnant woman to death and cutting the baby out of the womb to pass it off as her own – had been pushed back from December 8 after her lawyers were infected with coronavirus. The Bureau of Prisons pushed back the execution to January 12, but US District Court Judge Randolph Moss ruled on Thursday that the rescheduling was unlawful because his stay order was still in place.
The order bars federal officials from rescheduling the execution until at least January 1, and given that US Department of Justice guidelines require inmates to be notified of their execution dates at least 20 days in advance, the new date would likely come after Biden is scheduled to take office at noon on January 20. That means Biden, who has pledged to abolish the death penalty, would be able to block Montgomery from being executed.
“It’s a Christmas miracle,” said journalist Rachel Louise Snyder, who last week wrote a New York Times opinion piece about Montgomery’s case. Another journalist who wrote about Montgomery, Huffington Post’s Melissa Jeltsen, said the delay ruling was “joyful news on this Christmas Day.”
Joyful news on this Christmas day: Lisa Montgomery’s execution date has been put on hold.
Read my story on her life here: https://t.co/fw567vtdrz
— Melissa Jeltsen (@quasimado) December 25, 2020
Snyder, Jeltsen and other advocates for Montgomery, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have pointed to her mental illness and the sexual and physical abuse she had suffered as a child and young woman as reasons the death penalty never should have been ordered in her case.
“No one should be executed due to poor lawyering,” the ACLU said. “No one should be executed after a lifetime of experiencing gender-based violence. No one should be executed, period.”
No one should be executed due to poor lawyering.
No one should be executed after a lifetime of experiencing gender-based violence.
No one should be executed. Period.
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 18, 2020
Trump disagreed. He resumed federal executions in July, the first in 17 years, and Montgomery would have been the first female executed by the feds in 67 years. Ten executions have been carried out since July, and before Thursday’s order by Moss, three more were slated to be done before Biden took office.
Sorry, but in this instance I disagree. So much angst over a violent killer called Lisa Montgomery, yet the victim everyone so blithely glides over with “horrible crime” was named Bobbie Jo Stinnett and had a grieving family and friends. Justice not happening quickly enough. pic.twitter.com/jScGqb9T8J
— MtnMod685 (@MMod685) November 12, 2020
Montgomery’s crimes appeared to have the sort of special circumstances that qualify a murder as a potential death-penalty case. Prosecutors alleged that Montgomery, then 36, used an alias when contacting a 23-year-old Missouri woman, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, and made plans to meet her the next day about some puppies that Stinnett had advertised to sell. She traveled from Kansas to Stinnett’s house, and the women played with the puppies outside.
Read this then say that again with a straight face: pic.twitter.com/MRY81IBEXk
— Dr. Sarcasm Esq. (@DrSarcasmEsq) December 25, 2020
Montgomery then attacked Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and strangled her with a cord until she was unconscious. She then used a kitchen knife to cut open Stinnett’s abdomen, at which point the victim regained consciousness. Montgomery strangled her again, killing her, and cut the baby out of her body. She took the baby back to Kansas. Montgomery convinced her husband that she had gone into labor while shopping and had given birth at a clinic, where she asked him to pick up her and the baby.
Less than a day after the murder, the police arrived at the Montgomery household. There they found Lisa with the baby, surrounded by her delighted family.
In a matter of minutes, Lisa was arrested and the baby was retrieved and later returned to its father. pic.twitter.com/cqhrGyRCBB
— beth 🦋 (@BethEvansdarcy) April 1, 2019
In light of the facts of Montgomery’s case, some social media users were taken aback by those who celebrated the delay in her sentence being carried out. “Joyful, my ass,” one observer tweeted. “She’s an absolute monster.” Another critic blasted Jeltsen, saying, “You know what her crime is, yet you still wrote this.” Still another quipped sarcastically: “Pregnant women everywhere rejoice.”
Montgomery, who cut a full term infant out of a living woman’s abdomen, has earned her death sentence.
You are truly beyond reprehensible for defending someone who has abdicated their right to live.
You can go straight to hell and take Montgomery with you.
— LouisianaTeaRose (@TeaLouisiana) December 25, 2020
Isaac Arnsdorf, a ProPublica journalist who has called the recent spate of federal executions a “last-minute killing spree,” said the Montgomery case was an example of the administration’s “rush to execute.” But commenters argued Montgomery fully earned her death sentence with her horrific crime. “You are truly reprehensible for defending someone who has abdicated their right to live,” one Twitter user said. “You can go straight to hell and take Montgomery with you.”
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