Attorneys for the first woman to be executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years have signed COVID-19 – and now want her sentence to be postponed as they continue to ask for mercy in this case.
Lisa Montgomery, who was convicted in 2007 of strangling a pregnant woman, stealing her unborn baby from the womb and giving the child as her own, will die by lethal injection on December 8th.
Montgomery attorneys Amy Harwell and Kelley Henry filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a federal judge to give them more time to prepare their client’s pardon after they had the virus while traveling to Texas late last month infected, the Washington Post reported.
Harwell and Henry accuse Attorney General William Barr of setting Montgomery’s execution date in October as coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket in the US and other parts of the world.
Montgomery is expected to be taken to federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana for execution.
“You are sick because the Defendant Barr ruthlessly planned the execution of Ms. Montgomery in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Policy Advocacy Clinic complained to the US District Court in Washington. “Had it not been for Barr’s actions, the lawyer would not have been affected by the disease that is currently sweeping the country.”
The attorneys flew from Nashville to Texas to work on Montgomery’s motion to convert their sentence to life in prison and tested positive shortly thereafter.
They now suffer from “debilitating fatigue” which prevents them from working on Montgomery’s struggle for mercy. At the Fort Worth federal prison, where the convicted killer is held, more than 520 inmates have tested positive for the virus since April, including six deaths, the Washington Post reported.
Bobbie Jo Stinnett can be seen in an undated photo of Nodaway-Holt High School. Stinnett, 23, a factory worker eight months pregnant, was found murdered in her Missouri home.AP / AP
Cornell’s attorneys want a judge to issue an injunction that will allow more time to process a pardon for Montgomery while citing her “severe mental illness,” according to the report.
“Madam. The Montgomery attorneys are in bed while I speak, they really are inoperative,” Cornell law professor Sandra Babcock told District Judge Randolph Moss on Friday.
The deadline for submitting a pardon by the government on Monday and a possible extension to December 1 was “not feasible in view of her illness,” said Babcock.
Moss has scheduled a hearing for Monday afternoon in response to the filing, the Washington Post reported.
Montgomery’s lawyers and supporters said she suffered from hallucinations after being raped multiple times by her stepfather and routinely beaten by her mother.
“Unsurprisingly, this lifelong torture exacerbated Lisa’s genetic predisposition to mental illness and led her to develop dissociative disorder in addition to complex post-traumatic stress disorder,” said a petition signed by nearly 4,000 urging President Trump to stop her execution.
That trauma “directly” led to the gruesome crime in 2004, say advocates, in which federal authorities said she strangled Bobbie Jo Stinnett until she passed out and stole her baby after cutting open her body with a kitchen knife . Stinnett’s baby survived the attack.