Appeals Court Reinstates Execution Date For Only Woman On Death Row

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A federal appeals court reinstated the execution date for the only woman on death row in the U.S., reversing a lower court’s decision.

Federal death row inmate Lisa Montgomery’s execution will take place on Jan. 12, a panel of three judges at the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a decision Friday evening. A lower court judge had vacated that execution date on Dec. 24 after Montgomery’s lawyers said they tested positive for coronavirus on their way to visit her in prison, CNN reported.

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss unlawfully vacated Montgomery’s execution date, the appellate judges ruled, according to The Associated Press. Moss had even ruled that the Bureau of Prisons had to wait until Friday before rescheduling the execution, which the appeals court also disagreed with. (RELATED: ‘I Did Not Commit This Crime’: US Executes Man Who Beat, Sexually Abused 2-Year-Old Daughter)

“The federal government must be required to follow the law in setting any execution date, as the district court correctly held,” Meaghan VerGow, Montgomery’s attorney, said in a statement following the ruling Friday, CNN reported.

“The government should stop its relentless efforts to end her life,” VerGrow continued.

VerGow added that Montgomery’s legal team would formally ask the court to reconsider their reinstatement of the execution, according to CNN.

In 2004, Montgomery murdered Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old pregnant woman, by strangling her with a rope, according to The AP. Using a kitchen knife, she then cut the baby from Stinnett’s womb and tried to pass the child off as her own.

Her lawyers had argued that she has suffered from mental illness, according to The AP. They also argued that past trauma in Montgomery’s life contributed to Stinnett’s murder. (RELATED: Death Row Inmate Scheduled To Be Executed Days Before Inauguration Infected With Coronavirus)

“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,” VerGrow said, CNN reported.

A Dec. 18 New York Times editorial argued that Montgomery shouldn’t be executed due to her history of sexual assault, physical abuse and mental illness.

If executed, Montgomery would be the first female federal inmate to receive the death penalty in almost 70 years, according to BBC.

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