Death Penalty

ABA plea doesn't stop the execution of the only woman on federal death row

  • Print.

death row

Image from

Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, was executed early Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stand in the way.

According to SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court on Tuesday night lifted two stays that had delayed Montgomery’s execution and denied two other late requests for a stay.

The New York Times and the Washington Post also have coverage.

Montgomery is the 11th federal inmate to be executed since then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the resumption of capital punishment in July 2019.

Montgomery is the first female federal inmate to be executed since 1953, when Ethel Rosenberg was executed for espionage and Bonnie Brown Heady was executed for kidnapping and murder, according to the New York Times.

Montgomery, of Melvern, Kansas, was convicted in 2007 for strangling a Missouri woman and cutting an unborn baby from her womb. Her lawyers had argued in one of the cases that she was incompetent for execution because of bipolar disorder, brain damage and trauma. She has said God communicates with her through connect-the-dot puzzles, the Washington Post reports.

The lawyers had alleged in a commutation request that Montgomery’s stepfather subjected her to sexual abuse, and her mother forced her to “pay the bills” through sexual acts with repairmen, according to the New York Times.

ABA President Patricia Lee Refo had asked Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to delay Montgomery’s execution, along with that of federal inmates Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs. Refo cited court findings that carrying out the executions would create a substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission at the federal prison in Indiana where they would be carried out and in the surrounding community.

On Tuesday, a federal judge stayed the executions of Johnson and Higgs because they both contracted COVID-19 in prison. The federal government is appealing. Montgomery was initially scheduled for execution Dec. 8, but a federal judge agreed to a delay after two of Montgomery’s lawyers contracted COVID-19.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.