Lisa Montgomery is on Federal Death Row for a brutal crime. According to court documents Lisa Montgomery would murder a pregnant woman in order to steal the baby from her womb. After arranging a meeting with the victim Montgomery attempted to perform a C-section on the deceased woman. Incredibly the baby survived. Montgomery was convicted of charges of murder and kidnapping
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Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to death Friday for killing a Missouri mother-to-be and cutting the baby from the woman’s womb.
U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner in Kansas City handed down the sentence after a jury recommended the death penalty for Lisa Montgomery in the 2004 slaying of Bobbie Jo Stinnett of Skidmore, in northwest Missouri.
Montgomery becomes the third woman on federal death row.
“I hope that today’s sentence will bring some measure of closure to the family of Bobbie Jo Stinnett,” U.S. Attorney John Wood said in a statement. “Seeking the ultimate penalty is not something we take lightly, but this outcome serves the cause of justice and honors the memory of Bobbie Jo Stinnett.”
Montgomery was convicted in October of kidnapping resulting in death in the Dec. 16, 2004, killing of Stinnett. The 40-year-old from Melvern was arrested at her farmhouse a day after showing off Stinnett’s baby as her own.
Prosecutors presented evidence during the trial that Lisa strangled Stinnett with a rope, then used a kitchen knife to cut her infant daughter from the womb. Stinnett was eight months pregnant at the time.
The jury rejected claims from Lisa Montgomery’s attorney, Fred Duchardt, that she should be spared the death penalty because sexual abuse during her childhood led to mental illness. Duchardt raised about 20 issues in his motion for a new trial — one that was denied by Fenner — and said he plans to appeal the case.
“The thing that happened here is horrible and we can’t say anything differently about that and wouldn’t even try, but what we’ve tried to express to everybody who would listen is just the sweet person she is,” Duchardt said.
Lisa Montgomery’s husband, Kevin, and Stinnett’s mother, Becky Harper, attended the hearing with other family members, but neither spoke with reporters after leaving the courtroom.
Lisa Montgomery declined Fenner’s offer to speak before her sentencing and sat quietly as Fenner announced the death sentence.
“There’s so much in the (court) tapes about Lisa’s sorrow about what happened, but the trouble with her mental condition is that she can’t even go back there, can’t even resurrect those memories of what happened,” Duchardt said.
Before sentencing, Duchardt asked Fenner to include information about Lisa Montgomery’s abuse and medical treatment in documents sent to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Department of Justice spokesman Don Ledford said Lisa Montgomery will likely be sent to the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, a women’s correctional facility that has medical services for inmates.
“The one good thing that’s happened in all of this for Lisa is that she’s on medications to deal with her mental-health issues,” Duchardt said. “The doctors who are treating her have had her on a medication regimen that has done wonders.”
Lisa Montgomery is just the third woman to be sentenced to federal death row since 1972, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling led to an overhaul of death-penalty statues across the country.
Since 1927, only two women have been executed under the federal system, both in 1953.
Ethel Rosenberg was the first, sent to the electric chair after her and husband Julius, were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.
Bonnie Heady was sent to the gas chamber with her lover Carl Hall for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy in Kansas City.
Mary Surratt also was hanged by the U.S. Government in 1865 for her involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
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Lisa Montgomery 2020 Information
|LISA M MONTGOMERY|
|Register Number: 11072-031|
|Located at: Carswell FMC|
|Release Date: DEATH SENT|
Frequently Asked Questions
- Lisa Montgomery 2020 Update
Lisa Montgomery is currently incarcerated at the Carswell FMC which is the home for death row for women in the Federal system
- Why Is Lisa Montgomery On Death Row
Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to death for the murder of a woman where she cut an infant out of the woman's womb
- Lisa Montgomery Execution
Lisa Montgomery execution is scheduled for December 8, 2020
Lisa Montgomery More News
Defense lawyers attending a November 2005 dinner at a Kansas City restaurant had hoped it would be relaxed and informal.
Assigned to defend Lisa Montgomery, the Kansan accused of killing a pregnant Missourian and kidnapping a baby from her womb, the attorneys wanted to smooth out some internal friction and find a way to prepare the death-penalty case for trial.
But a sharp exchange between two lawyers splintered the team tasked with saving Montgomery’s life.
And the conflicts that flared that night still burn today.
Previous attorneys have so poorly represented Montgomery over the last 10 years that her conviction and death sentence should be set aside and a new federal trial ordered, her latest team of lawyers contends.
Some of the defense lawyers who earlier represented Montgomery sharply dispute the notion they did a poor job. But more than 700 pages of court records unsealed recently show that death-penalty defense is a high-pressure business in which everything is closely scrutinized on appeal.
Today, Montgomery awaits the outcome of her appeals at a Texas prison, the only woman among the 61 people on federal death row.
Any spirit of teamwork on Montgomery’s first team of defense lawyers evaporated at the 2005 dinner meeting.
Each of the three attorneys brought something essential.
David Owen, a veteran attorney in the federal public defender’s office, had no death penalty experience but represented the office paying for Montgomery’s defense.
Susan Hunt possessed death penalty experience but chafed at Owen’s control of the defense’s purse strings.
Judy Clarke simply was the team’s great hope. A California federal defender, Clarke had saved some of the nation’s most notorious murderers from death row: Susan Smith, convicted in South Carolina of killing her two sons; Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski; and Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph.
Montgomery presented the same kind of tough challenge. She’d drawn global headlines in December 2004 when federal prosecutors accused her of strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett to death, slicing open her belly and kidnapping her unborn baby at Stinnett’s home in Skidmore, Mo.
And because authorities arrested her cradling the infant in her arms, little doubt existed that she committed the crime. A mental health defense, Clarke’s specialty, was to be mounted.
The dinner meeting turned sour when Clarke held up a form that Owen had prepared to help establish and track case priorities, according to sworn statements each lawyer later filed in court.
Here’s how Clarke described what happened: “I stated matter-of-factly that he did not know enough to be the leader of the team and that he needed to relinquish control …. I explained that the attorney on the team with the least experience should not be in control of the case.”
Hunt remembered it this way: “Ms. Clarke told Mr. Owen that he should not be setting priorities and didn’t have enough experience to make decisions about priorities.”
Owen recalled Clarke saying: “You are too stupid to set priorities and don’t have enough trial experience to make any decisions.”
Montgomery’s defense team sputtered on until April 2006, when U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner removed Clarke after hearing complaints about conflicts.
Hunt dropped out a few weeks later, saying she needed more control over the case’s budget.
But the loss of Clarke, who now defends Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, devastated Montgomery’s chances to avoid the death penalty, her current appeals lawyers have argued.
Fenner has defended his decision to remove Clarke but acknowledged in a court filing last summer that defense issues early on were “messy” and “difficult.”
“It was all very unpleasant,” he said.
Because the appeals case remains undecided, lawyers who represented and prosecuted Montgomery declined to comment for this article. Their written recollections of the case are on file with the court, however.
Federal appeals courts upheld Montgomery’s conviction and sentence in 2011.
The current brawl is happening in the little-noticed world of secondary, or “collateral,” death penalty appeals. In a collateral appeal, new attorneys working for the condemned are encouraged to tear apart the work of defense trial team members and prove they did a poor job.
Those beleaguered defense lawyers often find that their fiercest advocates become the very federal prosecutors who put their clients on death row.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Roseann A. Ketchmark, for example, described the arguments of Montgomery’s latest appeals lawyers as the “second-guessing” of hard-working trial attorneys who faced an almost impossible job.
“Montgomery gave her defense team virtually nothing to work with,” Ketchmark wrote in court filings.
Few cases are overturned on “ineffective assistance of counsel” claims, which routinely are filed in death-penalty cases, experts said. The standard is very high because courts start their examination by presuming that the lawyers are effective.
But the U.S. Supreme Court has, in recent years, made it a little easier by requiring death-penalty lawyers to fully investigate their client’s personal history, said Richard Dieter, senior program director at the Death Penalty Information Center.
If the attorneys fail to do that, their client could get a new trial, or perhaps a new sentencing hearing where lawyers can present new evidence and argue against the death penalty.
The rigorous federal system has resulted in few executions, Dieter noted. Only three federal prisoners have been executed since 2001.
“The federal courts expect high levels of performance,” Dieter said. “There haven’t been very many federal executions.”
In May 2006, with trial more than a year away, Fenner appointed two new lawyers to assist Owen with Montgomery’s defense. With the selections of John P. O’Connor and Fred Duchardt, some would argue that she was represented by a local “dream team.”
O’Connor, a former prosecutor, had established himself as one of Kansas City’s most successful, “go-to” criminal defense lawyers.
Duchardt, though less well known, had tried more than a dozen capital cases.
Immediately they explored a medical condition called pseudocyesis, which eventually formed the heart of the insanity defense O’Connor and Duchardt offered when trial opened in October 2007. Pseudocyesis is a mental condition, often accompanied by physical symptoms, in which a person believes they are expecting a child when they are not carrying a baby.
Montgomery, who had undergone a tubal ligation, was driven by pseudocyesis and an unhealthy stew of other issues to stalk Stinnett on the Internet and then kill her, the defense argued.
But later, after Montgomery had been sentenced to die, her appeals lawyers hammered the trial team for relying on “the exotic and misguided” pseudocyesis defense.
Instead, they should have told “the true story of Lisa Montgomery’s life, her history of abuse and her mental illness and brain damage,” wrote appeals lawyer Lisa Nouri in a 238-page motion seeking a new trial.
Duchardt and prosecutors replied that jurors heard much of that history, though not packaged quite the same way suggested by Nouri and the other appeals lawyers, Christine Blegen and Kelley J. Henry.
Indeed, Duchardt pushed, without success, to admit even more evidence about the condition of Montgomery’s brain, a point that should count in his favor, said Deborah Denno, a capital punishment researcher at Fordham University.
Courts now expect lawyers to pursue that kind of evidence, Denno said.
“The fact that he was bringing in neuroscience evidence speaks well for him,” Denno said. “He’s a sophisticated lawyer.”
Just when Fenner will rule on whether Montgomery received effective representation is not clear.
But as Fenner noted in a filing last summer, Montgomery’s legal bills for this appeal are nudging close to a $550,000 cap he established earlier.
To cut costs, he trimmed one lawyer, Blegen, from Montgomery’s appeal team.
That move elicited a rare personal response from Montgomery, who wrote in an affidavit that she was concerned about more turmoil.
“The news that the court is trying to take away one of my lawyers has shaken my confidence in how my case will be handled from here on out,” Montgomery wrote.
Lisa Montgomery Execution
A date has been set for the execution of a Kansas woman who was convicted of killing a pregnant woman and cutting the baby from her abdomen in what would be the first federal execution of a woman in nearly 70 years, officials said on Friday.
The inmate, Lisa Montgomery of Melvern, Kan., was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death by a jury in federal court in Missouri in 2008. Her death, by lethal injection, is scheduled for Dec. 8 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind.
Federal executions have not taken place in nearly 20 years, but Ms. Montgomery’s would be the ninth federal execution since they resumed in July.
In 2004, Ms. Montgomery told her friends and family that she was pregnant, despite having undergone a sterilization procedure years earlier, according to court documents.
In December of that year, she contacted Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was 23 and eight months pregnant, under the guise of wanting to buy a rat terrier puppy from a litter that Ms. Stinnett had advertised online, court records show.
Ms. Montgomery, who was 36 at the time, drove to Ms. Stinnett’s home in northwestern Missouri, where she strangled her to death and cut the baby girl from her abdomen. Ms. Montgomery then went home and attempted to pass the baby off as her own.
Ms. Montgomery, who confessed to the crime, lost all attempts to appeal her conviction and sentence, according to the Department of Justice.
Kelley Henry, an assistant federal public defender representing Ms. Montgomery, said in a statement on Friday that Ms. Montgomery has accepted responsibility for her crime, “but her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice.”
Ms. Henry said that abuses Ms. Montgomery endured as a child, including being sex-trafficked by her mother and gang-raped by adult men, “exacerbated a genetic predisposition to mental illness inherited from both sides of her family,” including complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Few human beings have lived through the kind of torture and trauma that was inflicted on Lisa Montgomery by her mentally ill, alcoholic mother,” Ms. Henry said.
If Ms. Montgomery is executed, her death will be the first federal execution of a woman since 1953, when Bonnie Heady was killed in a gas chamber for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy in Kansas City, Mo.
Ms. Heady, with assistance from her accomplice Carl Hall, took the boy from school, held him for ransom and killed him. She was the first woman executed for kidnapping, according to reports at the time.
That same year, Ethel Rosenberg was sent to the electric chair after she was convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage. Ms. Rosenberg and her husband Julius were found guilty of stealing secrets from the United States’s atomic bomb project to aid the Soviet Union.
Only around 2 percent of inmates on death row and 1 percent of those executed are women, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. In April, there were more than 50 women on state and federal death rows, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Statistically, the violent crimes women commit are less likely to be considered for capital punishment than those committed by men, because of both the nature of the crimes and public perceptions of women, Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said on Saturday.
Most murders committed by women are domestic murders, which are often considered acts of passion and not eligible for the death penalty, Mr. Dunham said. Jurors, sometimes subconsciously, take into account stereotypical views of women, including that they are less violent and pose less of a future threat to society.
“The sense is that a woman is going to commit acts of violence only in extreme circumstances of extreme emotional stress or acting out of extreme mental illness,” Mr. Dunham said, noting that prosecutors who seek death penalties for women are often perceived as “bloodthirsty.”
In cases of women on trial for murder, prosecutors often attempt to portray women as “deviant” and not meeting traditional gender roles, and they tend to blame them for their own abuse or mental illness, he said.
Execution of women is rare: Since 1632, there have been 575 documented executions of women of the more than 15,000 confirmed executions in the United States, according to the Espy File, a database of executions in the United States and the earlier colonies.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 1972, arguing that it constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” then reversed its decision four years later, 16 women in death rows across the country have been executed.
Among them was Aileen Wuornos, a hitchhiking prostitute who killed six men along Florida highways. Ms. Wuornos initially claimed the killings were in self-defense after she was assaulted by clients but later told officials she did them intentionally. She was executed in Florida in 2002.
Last year, Attorney General William P. Barr announced that the Justice Department would resume executions of federal inmates sentenced to death, using a single drug, pentobarbital, after several botched executions by lethal injection renewed scrutiny of capital punishment.
The Department of Justice also on Friday scheduled the execution for Brandon Bernard, who was found guilty of the murders of two youth ministers in Texas in 1999.
Christopher Andre Vialva, another man convicted in the same killing, was executed last month.
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