It was only yesterday that we learned of the stay issued in the execution of convicted murderer and baby-thief Lisa Montgomery. A federal judge in Indiana ordered that additional examination of the killer’s mental state was required before the lethal injection procedure could proceed at the federal prison in Terre Haut. Well, that must have been a pretty rapid examination, at least in the eyes of the Supreme Court. Prosecutors and the attorney for the defense each made their case before the SCOTUS justices late last night. In the end, the court sided with the prosecution and ruled that Montgomery’s execution could proceed. I had incorrectly assumed that it would take a bit longer for the matter to be resolved. In any event, Lisa Montgomery was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. local time. (Associated Press)
A Kansas woman was executed Wednesday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the U.S. government has put to death a female inmate.
Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection there since July when President Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one…
Montgomery lay on a gurney in the pale-green execution chamber, her glasses on and her grayish brown hair spilling over a green medical pillow. At 1:30 a.m., an official in black gloves with a stethoscope walked into the room, listened to her heart and chest, then walked out. She was pronounced dead a minute later.
Opponents of capital punishment have spent years raising concerns that too many of these lethal injections are “botched” and the convicts being executed wind up suffering on the gurney. From the sound of the description of this event, that wasn’t the case with Lisa Montgomery. Once the first drugs were pumped into her, she closed her eyes in a matter of seconds and “showed no signs of distress.” There was a momentary convulsion in her midsection a few moments later and then she was gone.
Montgomery had no final words to leave behind. When asked if she had anything to say, she simply replied, “no.” As to her relative level of comfort, I will only say that she had a far, far easier passage from this world than Bobbie Jo Stinnett did. Montgomery strangled Stinnett with a rope and the victim reportedly came back to consciousness while the killer was cutting her baby from her womb with a kitchen knife. She later succumbed to the nightmarish attack before help could arrive. By contrast, Lisa Montgomery fell asleep and never woke up.
While the killer had nothing to say, her lawyer had plenty of accusations to hurl at everyone involved in the execution, starting with President Trump. Veteran death penalty attorney Kelley Henry railed against the “craven bloodlust of a failed administration.” She went on to claim that the government “stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman.”
Ms. Henry’s entire line of defense in the final proceedings had never been to claim that Montgomery was innocent. Nor did she seem to insinuate that the killer didn’t understand what she was doing when she committed the murder. Instead, she claimed that her client was so “damaged” from sexual abuse in her early life and other mental issues that she lacked the ability to understand why she was being executed. The Supreme Court apparently found this argument unpersuasive.
As a side note, two other executions were scheduled to take place later this week. Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs are on death row, but a second federal judge has now issued a stay of their executions. We can very likely expect both of those cases to make their way to the Supreme Court in rapid succession.