Lisa Montgomery’s execution is off the calendar, and it may not happen.
The Melvern woman was set for execution Jan. 12, but a federal judge vacated it, saying the Justice Department’s decision to set an execution date while the action was on stay was unlawful. The Bureau of Prisons now cannot schedule Montgomery’s execution until at least Friday and it has to give at least 20 days’ notice to Montgomery.
The execution was originally coming Dec. 8, but federal public defense attorneys Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell came down with COVID-19 and successfully requested a new schedule. The defense team had been working with Montgomery on a clemency petition, citing what they say is severe mental illness and her history as a victim of gang rape, incest and child sex trafficking.
The judge’s decision means Montgomery’s execution date may be set after President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20. Biden has criticized the death penalty and has said he would work to abolish it once he takes office, but he hasn’t said if he plans to pause federal executions after becoming President.
Montgomery, now 52, killed Bobbie Jo Stinnett in December 2004 after Montgomery drove to Missouri, ostensibly to buy a puppy. Montgomery tried to pass the baby off as her own after killing Stinnett but later confessed to the crime. She was convicted in 2007.
The last federal female inmate to be executed was Bonnie Heady after a kidnapping and murder incident in Missouri in the early 1950s.