WASHINGTON – The US Department of Justice said Friday it had planned the first federal execution in nearly 70 years and set a date for December 8th to kill Lisa Montgomery, who was convicted of a 2004 murder.
Montgomery, convicted in Missouri of strangling a pregnant woman, is being executed by lethal injection in Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S. Prison, the department said in a statement.
The last woman to be executed by the US government was Bonnie Heady, who was killed in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The Justice Department also planned a December 1
The two executions are the eighth and ninth that the federal government carried out in 2020.
The Trump administration ended an informal 17-year federal hiatus in July after announcing last year that the Bureau of Prisons would cut off a combination of three drugs it last used in 2003 would switch to a new single drug protocol for lethal injections.
The new protocol revived the longstanding legal challenges for lethal injections. In August, a federal judge in Washington, DC ruled that the Department of Justice violated the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act by not seeking a doctor’s prescription to administer the highly regulated barbiturate.
However, an appeals court ruled that the violation did not in itself constitute “irreparable harm” and allowed the federal execution.
In 2007, a US District Court for the Western Missouri District sentenced Montgomery to death after she was convicted of a federal kidnapping that resulted in death.
Her attorney, Kelley Henry, said Montgomery deserves life because she is mentally ill and has suffered child abuse.
“Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime and will never leave prison,” Henry said in a statement. “But her severe mental illness and the devastating effects of her childhood trauma make execution a profound injustice.”
Bernard’s attorney Robert Owen said in a statement that the federal government had misled the jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, whom Bernard found guilty of murder in 2000. His decision was spoiled by false statements, Owen said.
“This evidence confirms that Mr. Bernard is simply not one of the ‘worst of the worst’ criminals for whom we reserve the death penalty and that sparing his life does not pose a risk to anyone,” Owen said.