Federal judge temporarily halts execution of only woman on death row
A federal judge on Tuesday granted Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, a stay of execution just hours before she was scheduled to die by lethal injection at a federal prison complex in Indiana.
The state of play: Judge James Hanlon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana temporarily halted the execution so that a hearing could be held to determine Montgomery's mental competence. A date for the hearing has not yet been set, per CNN.
The big picture: Federal executions had been stalled for 16 years, until the Trump administration resumed federal capital punishment in July.
- Montgomery was one of three inmates the Department of Justice scheduled to be executed this week, days before the inauguration of President-elect Biden, who is against the federal death penalty.
What they're saying: "The Court was right to put a stop to Lisa Montgomery's execution," Kelley Henry, one of Montgomery's attorneys, said, according to CNN.
- "The Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of people like Mrs. Montgomery who, due to their severe mental illness or brain damage, do not understand the basis for their executions."
- "Mrs. Montgomery is mentally deteriorating and we are seeking an opportunity to prove her incompetence."
Background: Montgomery was convicted in 2004 for the murder of a woman who was 8-months pregnant at the time, cutting her baby out of her stomach and kidnapping it. The baby survived.