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Demonstrators protest federal executions of death row inmates in Washington, D.C. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Lisa Montgomery first female inmate to be executed in U.S. in nearly 70 years

Demonstrators protest federal executions of death row inmates, in front of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in December. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Lisa Montgomery became on Wednesday the first female inmate to be executed since 1953, per AP.

The big picture: The 52-year-old Kansas woman was declared dead at 1:31am after having a lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, following a Supreme Court ruling late Tuesday.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

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