Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 12, 2021 / 09:47 am (CNA).- A district court judge has stayed the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, on the eve of her execution.
“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,” said an order from Judge James Patrick Hanlon of the Southern District of Indiana.
“The Court will set a time and date for the hearing in a separate order in due course,” he said.
According to Montgomery’s attorneys, her mental state has deteriorated since the date of her execution was announced. She has reportedly begun hearing voices, and at one point said that “God spoke with her through connect-the-dot puzzles.”
“Based on reported observations, review of past materials, review of BOP medical records, and, in Dr. Kempke’s case, her past observation of Ms. Montgomery experiencing psychosis, all three experts opine that Ms. Montgomery is presently unable to rationally understand the government’s rationale for her execution,” said Hanlon.
Montgomery was diagnosed with various mental illnesses and experienced brain damage due to physical and sexual abuse she endured as a child.
Hanlon noted that while there are often “frivolous” filings prior to a condemned prisoner’s scheduled execution, “counsel’s filing is not frivolous.”
“As discussed elsewhere in this order, Ms. Montgomery has been diagnosed with physical brain impairments and multiple mental illnesses, and three experts are of the opinion that, based on conduct and symptoms reported to them by counsel, Ms. Montgomery’s perception of reality is currently distorted and impaired,” he said.
Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2007 for the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old woman who was 8 months pregnant. Montgomery cut Stinnett’s unborn daughter out of her womb, and kidnapped her across state lines. The girl survived and is now a teenager.
Multiple Catholic figures have spoken out against Montgomery’s planned execution, arguing that she is mentally unwell and that the death penalty itself is unjust.
In 2019, the Trump administration announced that federal executions would resume after a nearly two-decade moratorium.