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US executes only woman on federal death row

BBC

Lisa Montgomery – the only female inmate on federal death row in the US – has been executed for murder.

She received a lethal injection at a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, after a last-minute stay of execution was lifted by the US Supreme Court.

The case attracted attention because her lawyers argued she was mentally ill and suffered serious abuse as a child.

The 52-year-old strangled a pregnant woman before cutting out and kidnapping her baby in Missouri in 2004.

Her victim, 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, bled to death but her baby was safely recovered and returned to her family.

Montgomery is the first female federal inmate to be put to death by the US government in 67 years.

According to witnesses, a woman standing next to Montgomery during the execution process, removed the inmate’s face mask and asked her if she had any last words. Montgomery responded “no”, and said nothing else.

She was pronounced dead at 01:31 (06:31 GMT). Montgomery’s lawyer, Kelley Henry, said that everyone who had participated in the execution “should feel shame”.

“The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,” she said in a statement. “Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”

In a dramatic move late on Monday, a judge in Indiana had halted the scheduled injection until a mental competency hearing could be held.

Her lawyers argued that she had been born brain-damaged and was too mentally ill to be executed.

As a child she was routinely sexually and physically abused by her father and trafficked by her mother, family members said. Her treatment was so violent that it amounted to torture, her lawyers say.

She was found guilty of the crime in 2007. The next day, she was sentenced to death.

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