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Photo: Lisa Montgomery's laywers
Lisa Montgomery's execution was pushed forward by the Supreme Court after she was initially granted a stay of execution by a federal judge. Photo: Lisa Montgomery's lawyers

Lisa Montgomery’s execution was a final dark act in the Trump administration saga

The administration will leave power having executed the first woman in the U.S. since 1953.

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Editor’s Note: This article describes incidences of domestic abuse and may be triggering to some readers
 

After a stay of execution was granted by a federal judge earlier in the week, the Trump administration went forward and executed 52-year-old Lisa Montgomery, at 1:31 a.m on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 13, ending the life of the only woman on federal death row. 

Her stay of execution was shot down earlier in the day by the Supreme Court.

Montgomery is now the first woman to be executed by the federal government since 1953. 

The government killed Montgomery through a lethal injection of pentobarbital, despite objections from her lawyers that she was not mentally competent enough for execution. 

Montgomery, who was convicted for murder and fetal abduction in 2004, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. She was also born with brain damage, due to her mother drinking heavily during pregnancy.

Experts who evaluated her stated that Montgomery, like many victims of childhood trauma, began to dissociate from her reality in order to cope. 

Montgomery suffered more cruelty than any person ever should, and it came at the hands of her caretakers. According to reports from her family members, her mother physically abused her and withheld all forms of affection. Her stepfather began molesting her at the tender age of 11. 

Even though Montgomery’s mother witnessed her husband abusing her daughter, she did not report it to the authorities. Montgomery told a cousin at the time that her parents were trafficking her in exchange for work done around the house. 

In his ruling on a stay of execution, U.S District Judge James Patrick Hanlon wrote that Montgomery was suffering from an extremely rare condition known as pseudocyesis. This condition occurs when a woman’s false belief that she is pregnant triggers hormonal and physical changes as if she were really pregnant. 

Prosecutors asserted that her motive was part of a plan to gain custody of her four children from her ex-husband, who knew that she underwent sterilization and planned to reveal her pregnancy lie. 

In efforts to convict her, prosecutors believe that she turned her focus on Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a friend she met through dog shows, who was eight months pregnant at the time. 

Regardless of the possible motive, Montgomery was not in her right mind at the time of the crime. Her lawyers maintain that their client murdered Stinnett during a psychotic episode. Since her arrest, Montgomery had been medicated and received psychiatric care at a Texas prison for women with special mental health needs. 

According to her lawyers, in the days leading up to her execution, Montgomery was having auditory hallucinations of her abusive mother’s voice, and believed that God was speaking with her through “connect-the-dot puzzles.” 

Montgomery’s attorneys fought well into Tuesday night, asking for more time for the courts to evaluate their client’s mental state. By midnight, there was only one stay from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals keeping Montgomery alive. 

The Trump administration fought back and successfully overturned appeals until finally the Supreme Court allowed the Justice Department to move forward with the execution. 

One of Montgomery’s attorneys, Kelley Henry, expressed her dismay in a statement via Death Penalty Worldwide. 

“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight. Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame,” she said. 

Montgomery’s final days of life were no less tragic than the abuse she suffered in childhood. 

Through the assistance of mental health professionals in the Texas prison, she was able to express remorse for her crime, and spent her time making needle-point gloves and hats as gifts for her lawyers. 

But when she was informed of her execution date, she hasn’t been able to continue that hobby or even read since her glasses were taken away from her out of concern that she would attempt suicide. 

“All of her coping mechanisms were taken away from her when they locked her down,” Henry said. 

In what her lawyers have called a final insult, the government refused Montgomery the chance to receive a final prayer from her spiritual advisor, Assemblies of God pastor John Francisco. He was not even permitted to stand with her in the execution chamber. 

The execution of this damaged and delusional woman did not achieve anything besides more senseless violence. 

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

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