A federal appeals court on Friday refused to delay the execution of the only woman on federal death row, reversing a lower court’s decision that halted the execution last week.
In an emergency New Year’s Day ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that a lower court judge should not have postponed the execution of Lisa Montgomery.
U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss last month delayed Montgomery’s execution, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 8, to allow her attorneys time to recover from COVID-19.
After Judge Moss granted the stay, the Justice Department scheduled her execution for Jan. 12. Last week, he ruled the Justice Department acted illegally by setting an execution date while the stay was in order.
But the Court of Appeals said Judge Moss had erred in his ruling and affirmed Montgomery’s execution date as Jan. 12.
Montgomery’s attorney said she would ask the full appellate court to overturn the panel’s decision.
“We will ask the en banc court to reconsider this ruling,” said Meaghan VerGow. “The federal government must be required to follow the law in setting any execution date, as the district court correctly held. Lisa Montgomery should not be executed on Jan. 12.”
Montgomery would be the first woman executed in the United States in almost 70 years. She is set to die by lethal injection at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
In 2004, Montgomery was convicted of murdering Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant. Montgomery cut Stinnett’s unborn child from her womb with a kitchen knife. The child was missing but was later found and survived.
Attorneys and supporters for Montgomery have argued that she suffers from several mental disorders that emerged from a lifetime of abuse.
“Given everything we know about Lisa Montgomery’s mental illness, her lifetime of horrific torture and trauma, and the many people in positions of authority who could have intervened to save her but never did, there can be no principled reason to carry out her execution,” Ms. VerGow said.
“The government should stop its relentless efforts to end her life, and President Trump should commute her sentence to life without possibility of release.”