TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - News 10's Heather Good reports Lisa Montgomery has been executed at the federal prison in Terre Haute.
Good served as a media witness for the execution.
Montgomery's time of death was listed as 1:31 am.
The last woman executed by the federal government was Bonnie Brown Heady on Dec. 18, 1953, for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy in Missouri.
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the Justice Department to carry out the first execution of a female death-row inmate in almost seven decades following a flurry of legal rulings.
The high court handed down its decision just after midnight on Wednesday, allowing the federal Bureau of Prisons to proceed with the execution of Montgomery.
Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.
STATEMENT FROM LISA MONTGOMERY'S ATTORNEY
“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight. Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame. No one disagrees that Mrs. Montgomery was the victim of unspeakable torture and sex trafficking. No one can credibly dispute Mrs. Montgomery’s longstanding debilitating mental disease – diagnosed and treated for the first time by the Bureau of Prisons' own doctors. Our Constitution forbids the execution of a person who is unable to rationally understand her execution. The current administration knows this. And they killed her anyway. Violating the Constitution, federal law, its own regulations, and longstanding norms along the way.
The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman. After we, her attorneys, contracted COVID-19 during our travels to visit her after her execution was scheduled, the government fought tooth and nail against any delay to allow us to recover so we could represent her effectively. Then they violated the law in multiple ways in rescheduling her execution for the final days of the Trump Administration. As courts agreed Lisa’s case presented important legal issues warranting serious consideration – including whether she was competent to execute – the government hammered onward with appeals.
By insisting on an execution during a pandemic, this administration demonstrated its reckless disregard for human life of innocent citizens. Executions are super-spreader events. The government knows this. Yet, they put the lives of every single person who must participate in these “events” as well as every one of those persons' friends, families, neighbors, co-workers, and who knows how many other people. Because this administration was so afraid that the next one might choose Life over Death, they put the lives and health of US citizens in grave danger.
In the midst of all this litigation, Lisa’s request for clemency remained before President Trump. It was supported by thousands of organizations and individuals – faith leaders, anti-violence advocates, conservative leaders, international organizations, and many more. But the President did nothing. He had not even the decency to formally deny – or even acknowledge – Lisa’s clemency application, though it is hard to imagine a case more deserving of executive intervention than this one.
Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice. She should never have faced a death sentence in the first place, as no other woman has faced execution for a similar crime.
And Lisa was much more than the tragic crime she committed, a crime for which she felt deep remorse before she lost all touch with reality in the days before her execution. Lisa was also much more than the horrors inflicted upon her, the sexual violence and abuse she endured at the hands of those who were supposed to love, nurture, and protect her.
Lisa was a loving mother, grandmother, and sister who adored her family. She was a devout Christian who loved Christmas and created beautiful angels for those lucky enough to receive her gifts. Lisa often became trapped in the prison of her mind, losing touch with reality for periods of time. But when not gripped by psychosis, she was a gentle and caring person whom I was honored to know and to represent.
Lisa Nouri, Amy Harwell and I represented Mrs. Montgomery for eight years. We loved her very much and she loved us. She honored us with her truth and trusted us to share it in a way that not only told her story, but that could help other women.
Even though President Trump could not be the hero we asked him to be, we are here to say to every woman and girl who has been the victim of violence and degradation: You matter. Your pain matters. You are more than a victim. You are a survivor. Do not let anyone humiliate or shame you. You deserve to be loved.
In the past week, we have seen just how far President Trump and his administration will go in their disdain for justice and the rule of law. This failed government adds itself to the long list of people and institutions who failed Lisa.
We should recognize Lisa Montgomery’s execution for what it was: the vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power. We cannot let this happen again.”
-Kelley Henry, attorney for Lisa Montgomery
-January 13, 2021
OTHER EXECUTIONS THIS WEEK
Two more executions are scheduled to happen this week in Terre Haute.
Cory Johnson is set to be executed on Thursday. He was found guilty in the murders of seven people.
His lawyers argue Johnson should be exempt from the death penalty because he has an intellectual disability.
Here's what the Department of Justice says Johnson did:
"Cory Johnson murdered seven people — Peyton Johnson, Louis Johnson, Bobby Long, Dorothy Armstrong, Anthony Carter, Linwood Chiles, and Curtis Thorne — in furtherance of his drug-trafficking activities.
Between 1989 and July 1992, Johnson and several co-conspirators, including federal death-row inmates Richard Tipton and James Roane, were partners in a large drug-trafficking conspiracy based in Richmond, Virginia. In early 1992, Johnson went on a killing spree, shooting and killing each of the seven victims for perceived slights or rivalry in the drug trade.
Johnson shot one victim at close range after ordering him to place his head on a car steering wheel. Johnson shot and killed another victim at the victim’s home when he failed to pay for crack cocaine — and Johnson also murdered the victim’s sister and a male acquaintance. In February 1993, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found Johnson guilty of numerous federal offenses, including seven counts of capital murder, and unanimously recommended seven death sentences, which the court imposed.
Johnson’s convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal more than 24 years ago, and his initial round of collateral challenges failed 15 years ago. Johnson’s execution initially was scheduled to occur in May 2006, but a preliminary injunction prevented the government from proceeding until it was vacated this September.
Johnson is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Jan. 14, 2021, at the Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute, Indiana."
Dustin Higgs is set to be executed on Friday. A jury found him guilty for his role in the kidnappings and murders of three women.
His lawyers say Higgs did not kill anyone, but there were trial arguments he directed another person to kill the women.
Here's what the Department of Justice says Higgs did:
"Dustin John Higgs kidnapped and murdered three women — Tamika Black, 19; Tanji Jackson, 21; and Mishann Chinn, 23.
One evening in January 1996, Higgs and two friends drove to Washington, D.C., to pick up Black, Jackson, and Chinn, whom Higgs had invited to his apartment in Laurel, Maryland. At the apartment, Jackson rebuffed an advance by Higgs and the women left. Higgs offered the women a ride back to Washington, D.C., but instead drove to a secluded area in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, ordered the women out of the vehicle, gave a gun to one of the friends, and said, “better make sure they’re dead.”
The other man shot Black and Jackson in the chest and back, and shot Chinn in the back of the head, killing all three women. On Oct.11, 2000, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland found Higgs guilty of numerous federal offenses, including three counts of first-degree premeditated murder, three counts of first-degree felony murder, and three counts of kidnapping resulting in death, and unanimously recommended nine death sentences, which the court imposed.
Higgs’ convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal nearly 17 years ago, and his initial round of collateral challenges failed nearly eight years ago. Higgs is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 15, 2021."