WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge said the Justice Department unlawfully rescheduled the implementation of the only girl on federal death row, possibly setting up the Trump administration to schedule the execution following president-elect Joe Biden takes office.
U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss also vacated an order from the director of the Bureau of Prisons who had put Lisa Montgomery’s implementation date for Jan. 12. Montgomery had previously been scheduled to be put to death in the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, this month, however Moss delayed the implementation after her lawyers contracted coronavirus visiting their customer and asked him to extend the period of time to submit a clemency request.
Moss prohibited the Bureau of Prisons from executing Lisa Montgomery’s implementation before the end of the officials and year rescheduled her implementation date for Jan. 12. However, Moss ruled Wednesday that the agency was also prohibited from rescheduling the date while a stay was set up.
“The Court, accordingly, concludes that the Director’s order setting a new execution date while the Court’s stay was in effect was’not in accordance with law,”’ Moss wrote.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Under the order, the Bureau of Prisons cannot reschedule Montgomery’s implementation until at least Jan. 1. Generally, under Justice Department guidelines, a death-row inmate has to be advised at least 20 days prior to the implementation. Due to the judge’s order, if the Justice Department chooses to reschedule the date in January, it could mean that the implementation would be scheduled following Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
A spokesperson for Biden has told The Associated Press the president-elect”opposes the death penalty now and in the future” and would work as president to end its usage in office. But Biden’s agents have not said whether executions will be paused immediately once Biden takes office.
Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in December 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then a kitchen knife to cut the infant girl from the uterus, authorities said.
Prosecutors stated Montgomery eliminated the infant out of Stinnett’s body, took the child along with her, and tried to pass the girl off as her very own. Montgomery’s legal team has argued their client suffers from serious mental disorders.
“Given the severity of Mrs. Montgomery’s mental illness, the sexual and physical torture she endured throughout her life, and the connection between her trauma and the facts of her crime, we appeal to President Trump to grant her mercy, and commute her sentence to life imprisonment,” one of Montgomery’s attorneys, Sandra Babcock, said in a statement.
Two other federal offenders are scheduled to be implemented in January but have tested positive to get coronavirus and their attorneys are also seeking delays to their executions.
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