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Judge blocks first planned federal execution of female inmate in almost 70 years

Judge blocks first planned federal execution of female inmate in almost 70 years
© Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery

A federal judge late Monday blocked what would have been the first federal execution of a woman in nearly 70 years, citing the need to determine her mental health state. 

According to The Associated Press, Judge Patrick Hanlon of the Southern District of Indiana halted Lisa Montgomery’s execution, which was scheduled to take place Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind. 

CNN reported early Tuesday that prosecutors have filed a notice to appeal the judge’s ruling. 

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“Mrs Montgomery is mentally deteriorating and we are seeking an opportunity to prove her incompetence,” Montgomery’s lawyer, Kelley Henry, said in a statement, Reuters reported

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit had separately ruled to stay the execution

Montgomery, who was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection, was convicted in 2007 of the 2004 strangulation of a woman who was eight months pregnant at the time. Montgomery removed the unborn child, who survived, from Bobbie Jo Stinnet’s womb after the murder. 

The Trump administration resumed federal executions last year following a 17-year hiatus, executing more prisoners in 2020 than all of the states that still carry out capital punishment combined, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center. 

Monday’s ruling comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided earlier this month that a lower court judge improperly vacated Montgomery's execution date. 

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss had delayed the execution after Montgomery’s attorneys contracted COVID-19 while visiting their client.

While President-elect Biden has not publicly indicated whether he will halt federal executions upon taking office, a spokesman, TJ Ducklo, said the former vice president would aim to end the practice, the AP noted.

--Updated on Jan. 13 at 5:40 a.m.