US federal judge has granted a stay on the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on the federal death row in nearly seven decades citing the need to determine Montgomery's mental state. The decision came a few hours before she was due to be executed. Lisa Montgomery had committed a gruesome crime of strangling a pregnant woman with a rope before performing a cesarean with a kitchen knife and fleeing with the baby.
Judge James Patrick Hanlon, of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana reportedly said in the order granting the stay, "Ms. Montgomery's motion to stay execution is GRANTED to allow the Court to conduct a hearing to determine Ms. Montgomery's competence to be executed." Date has not been set for the competency hearing. On January 12, Montgomery was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Now, the prosecutors have filed a notice appealing the judges ruling just hours before the execution on Tuesday (local time).
As per CNN report, Montgomery’s friends and family along with other supporters have pleaded the outgoing US President Donald Trump to go through the clemency petition and make an executive decision and commute her sentence to lie without the possibility of parole. She was sentenced to death in 2008 by Missouri jury for the murder of a pregnant woman in 2004 and kidnapping the baby. The baby reportedly survived.
Montgomery’s attorney, Kelley Henry reportedly welcomed the decision and said that “the court was right to stop Lisa Montgomery's execution”. Henry further added, “As the court found, Mrs. Montgomery 'made a strong showing' of her current incompetence to be executed. Mrs. Montgomery has brain damage and severe mental illness that was exacerbated by the lifetime of sexual torture she suffered at the hands of caretakers.”
Montgomery’s attorney said she was suffering from severe mental illness at the time of the murder. The noted that the Eighth Amendment stops the execution of people such as her, who fail to understand the basis for their executions due to brain damage or mental illness. Henry reportedly said, “Mrs. Montgomery is mentally deteriorating and we are seeking an opportunity to prove her incompetence.”