A federal judge has delayed the December 8 execution of Lisa Montgomery, who was convicted of killing a pregnant woman and taking off with her baby more than a decade ago, on account that two of her attorneys have contracted coronavirus.
According to Fox News, the two attorneys, Kelly Henry and Amy Harwell, tested positive for coronavirus after visiting Montgomery at a Texas federal prison in October.
Both have reportedly been experiencing serious symptoms, a development that has complicated the team’s efforts to seek clemency from President Donald Trump on behalf of Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row.
The Nashville Tennessean reports that U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss has ruled that the execution be delayed until at least December 31, nearly three weeks later than the original execution date. The judge did not establish a firm date for the execution, which is set to occur in Indiana.
Last month, the Federal Bureau of Prisons established a date for Montgomery’s execution by lethal injection, nearly 13 years after she was convicted for the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old pregnant woman from Missouri.
According to court documents, Montgomery, who had been telling people she was pregnant, traveled to Stinnett’s home nearly 150 miles away under the auspices of wanting to adopt a puppy. Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, allowed Montgomery to play with the puppies while she took a phone call from her mother.
Some time after the phone call ended, Montgomery attacked Stinnett and used the cord to strangle her until she was unconscious. Montgomery then used the kitchen knife to cut into Stinnett’s abdomen, causing Stinnett to regain consciousness. A struggle ensued, and Montgomery strangled Stinnett a second time, killing her. Montgomery extracted the fetus from Stinnett’s body, cut the umbilical cord, and left with the baby. Montgomery entered her car and drove away from the Stinnett home, holding the baby in her arms and pinching the umbilical cord.
[Harper, Stinnett’s mother] called Stinnett shortly after 3:30 p.m. When no one answered, Harper walked the two blocks to Stinnett’s home. The front door was open, and Harper went inside, calling for her daughter. She reached the dining room and found Stinnett’s body lying there, covered in blood. Harper called 911 and told the operator that her daughter was eight months pregnant and in need of medical assistance. Harper said that it looked like Stinnett’s stomach had exploded.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been making a public case against the death penalty since before he received his party’s nomination and said he wants to put an end to the practice.
Since 1973, over 160 individuals in this country have been sentenced to death and were later exonerated. Because we can’t ensure that we get these cases right every time, we must eliminate the death penalty. https://t.co/o9LQHWwmt7
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 25, 2019
Three federal executions are slated to occur before inauguration day. Robert Owen, an attorney for two of the inmates, told The New York Times that his clients were convicted through the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, which was part of the 1994 Crime Bill.