San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition

Court clears woman’s ex­e­cu­tion

- By Michael Tarm and Heather Hollingswo­rth Michael Tarm and Heather Hollingswo­rth are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers. Crime · U.S. News · Discrimination · Human Rights · Society · Indiana · Philadelphia Union · United States of America · U.S. Supreme Court · Federal Bureau of Prisons · Missouri · Joe Biden · Donald Trump · Washington · Virginia · Maryland · Henry · Terre Haute · Stinnett, TX · Skidmore, MO · Corey Johnson

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The U. S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the Jus­tice De­part­ment to carry out the first ex­e­cu­tion of a fe­male deathrow in­mate in al­most seven decades fol­low­ing a flurry of le­gal rul­ings.

The high court handed down its de­ci­sion just af­ter mid­night onWed­nes­day, al­low­ing the fed­eral Bu­reau of Prisons to pro­ceed with the ex­e­cu­tion of Lisa Mont­gomery.

Mont­gomery was con­victed of killing 23yearold Bob­bie Jo Stin­nett in the north­west Mis­souri town of Skid­more in 2004. She used a rope to stran­gle Stin­nett, who was eight months preg­nant, and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife. Mont­gomery took the child with her and at­tempted to pass the girl off as her own.

Her ex­e­cu­tion comes as an­other court halted two other ex­e­cu­tions set for later this week be­cause the in­mates tested pos­i­tive for COVID19. The three ex­e­cu­tions were to be the last be­fore Pres­i­den­t­elect Joe Biden, an op­po­nent of the fed­eral death penalty, is swornin next week. Now it’s un­clear how many ad­di­tional ex­e­cu­tions there will be un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who re­sumed fed­eral ex­e­cu­tions in July af­ter a 17year pause. Ten fed­eral in­mates have since been put to death.

Mont­gomery’s lawyers have long ar­gued she is men­tally ill and can’t com­pre­hend she would be put to death. Sev­eral courts had is­sued in­junc­tions, but they were all later lifted by ap­peals courts or the Supreme Court.

Separately, a fed­eral judge for the U. S. Dis­trict of Columbia halted the sched­uled ex­e­cu­tions later this week of Corey John­son and Dustin Higgs in a rul­ing Tues­day. John­son,

con­victed of killing seven peo­ple re­lated to his drug traf­fick­ing in Vir­ginia, and Higgs, con­victed of or­der­ing the mur­ders of three women in Mary­land, both tested pos­i­tive for COVID19 last month.

De­lays of any of this week’s sched­uled ex­e­cu­tions be­yond Biden’s in­au­gu­ra­tion next Tues­day would likely mean they will not hap­pen any­time soon, or ever, since a Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion is ex­pected to op­pose car­ry­ing out fed­eral death sen­tences. One of Mont­gomery’s lawyers, Kel­ley Henry, told The As­so­ci­ated Press Tues­day morn­ing that her client ar­rived at the Terre Haute fa­cil­ity late Mon­day night from a Texas prison and that, be­cause there are no fa­cil­i­ties for fe­male in­mates, she was be­ing kept in a cell in the ex­e­cu­tion cham­ber build­ing it­self.

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