Protest against the execution in Terre Haute Image: Reuters
Lisa Montgomery was executed in Indiana after the Supreme Court dismissed the last appeal. She is the first woman to be executed in the United States after a federal conviction since 1953.
LIsa Montgomery was executed at 1:31 am local time in Terre Haute Federal Prison, Indiana. The American news channel CNN reports. The execution was initially suspended. A federal court in Indiana based the decision on Monday with mental disorders of the fifty-two-year-old. Montgomery is not in a position to understand the planned execution as a result of her act. However, an appeals court overturned the decision a day later. The Supreme Court in Washington finally approved the authorities on Wednesday.
Montgomery strangled a pregnant dog breeder in Missouri in December 2004 and cut an eight-month-old fetus from her stomach. One day after the crime, she was arrested at her home in Skidmore, about 250 kilometers from the scene. She had the kidnapped baby who survived the gruesome act with her. Before she confessed, she told the police and her husband that she gave birth to the girl herself. She was sentenced to death in 2007.
Montgomery is the first woman to be executed in the United States following a federal conviction in nearly 70 years. After 17 years, President Donald Trump resumed federal executions last summer. The Republican government has since executed ten people sentenced to death. He ignored a pardon from Montgomery’s lawyers.
In addition to Montgomery, Terre Haute Federal Prison is also slated for executions of the murderers Cory Johnson and Dustin John Higgs this week. The lawyers for the two death row inmates have also requested a suspension.
The United States on Wednesday executed a woman who had murdered a pregnant woman to steal her fetus, the first federal execution of a woman in almost 70 years, in one of the last acts of the presidency of Donald Trump.
“Lisa Montgomery, 52, was executed in Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary “, in the Midwestern state of Indiana, at 01:31 (06:31 GMT), the Justice Department announced in a statement.
Montgomery, who in 2004 killed a pregnant woman to keep her fetus, received a lethal injection “in accordance with the capital punishment recommended unanimously by a federal jury and imposed by the United States District Court” of Missouri, the text continued.
Shortly before, the Supreme Court had rejected the latest appeals filed by the woman’s lawyers, despite the disagreement of its three progressive justices.
According to them, their client suffers from serious mental disorders as a result of the group attacks and rapes she suffered as a child, and she does not understand the meaning of her sentence, an essential condition for her to be executed.
A federal judge had ordered on Monday the execution to be suspended at the request of the defense, but the Justice Ministry appealed that decision of the magistrate and an appeal court overturned the ruling on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court of the United States, before which two different appeals had been presented, gave reason in both cases to the lawyers of the Trump administration.
In 2004, Montgomery, unable to have a new child, identified his victim – a dog breeder – on the internet and came to his home in Missouri with the excuse of buying him a terrier.
Instead, he strangled her, opened her uterus, took the baby – who survived – and left the 23-year-old in a pool of blood.
Trump, a staunch supporter of the death penalty, ignored a clemency petition filed by Montgomery supporters.
The European Union “deeply regrets” the execution, declared European diplomacy spokesman Peter Stano.
– 10 men executed –
Since the resumption of federal executions in the United States in July, after a 17-year hiatus, 10 men have received the death penalty.
And besides MontgomeryAs the Trump administration plans to execute two African-Americans this week: Corey Johnson on Thursday and Dustin Higgs on Friday.
But in these cases there is also uncertainty behind a federal court’s decision to block their executions. The two condemned to death recently contracted COVID-19 and the lethal injection could cause them illegal suffering, the judges considered.
Former guards of the Terre Haute penitentiary, meanwhile, have written to the acting Secretary of Justice, Jeffrey Rosen, asking him to postpone these executions “until the prison staff are vaccinated against covid-19.”
An execution requires that dozens of people remain in a closed environment, an environment conducive to the spread of the virus. For this reason, states have suspended executions for months.
The government of Trump he has done the opposite and has been in favor of proceeding with executions as quickly as possible before leaving power.
“In the last hours of Trump’s presidency, there is a race to execute people who have been on death row for years or even decades. It’s crazy,” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin denounced on NPR radio Monday. , who announced the presentation of a bill to stop federal executions again.
After the Democrats retake control of the Senate, that text may be adopted after the arrival in the White House of Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment.
There are 22 American states that do not have capital punishment and among the 28 that provide for it 12 have not applied it for 10 years. This year, there have only been executions in five states – a total of eight dead convicts; the downward trend in executions has been noticeable in the US since the 1990s. But the Trump administration decided, in its final year, to resume federal executions, which had not taken place since 2003. And it did so with such enthusiasm that in the week of July when he ordered his first federal execution marked two more; right there, it equaled the number of federal executions of the last three decades. Two more in August, two more in September; after the elections, on November 19, one more, and in December two.
It adds up to ten, that is, more than 21% of all federal executions since the 1920s – totaling 47. And making 2020 the first year in the history of the country where there were more federal executions than of all states combined .
But Trump does not intend to stop here: there are three more federal executions scheduled for 2021, including the first for a woman since 1953. This is Lisa Montgomery, 52, convicted in 2004 for the murder of an eight-month-old pregnant woman who subsequently removed the baby from the belly with a knife (the child survived). Montgomery is the only woman on federal death row (there are 50 women sentenced to death in 15 states), with 61 men. His execution was scheduled for December 8 and was postponed to January 12, eight days after Biden’s inauguration.
Since 1889, an outgoing president has not had someone killed during the transition period – in what the United States calls the president “lame duck“, that is,” lame duck “. The last president to order executions as a lame duck was Grover Cleveland, in 1889, and he was also Cleveland, in his second term (he is the only one in US history who has had two non-consecutive terms, having been the 22nd and 24th president) , setting the record for federal executions – 16. If he kills the 13 he has planned, Trump will be second in this category.
Executions have been declining since the 1990s
Federal executions result, as the name implies, from decisions of federal courts, which can sentence to death for murder or attempted murder of witnesses, jurors, or members of the courts, but also treason, espionage and even drug trafficking, among others. other crimes. Contrary to what happens in the courts of the states, in which each attorney has the autonomy to ask for the death penalty, in the federal system only the US Attorney General (the correspondent to the Portuguese Attorney General but also to the Minister of Justice ) may ask for capital punishment. Convicts can only appeal to federal courts.
But despite the killing fury of the Trump administration, and there are still about 2,600 people on death row in the U.S. since 1991, that few people have been executed in a year. After a peak of 98 executions in 1999, the number has been noticeably lower. And the state of California, which has the largest number of people sentenced to capital punishment – 720 – has not done so since 2006.
“The country has evolved since the 1990s, when executions and death sentences reached their maximum,” he says, quoted by New York Times, Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, whose December report, which presents several figures on this reality, draws attention to the records set by Trump in 2020 and the contrast with what appears to be the direction of the country.
According to Dunham, the reasons for the growing resistance to the death penalty are numerous: moral opposition; the possibility of executing innocents; the high cost of litigation in capital punishment cases; the fact that it is not a deterrent; the belief that “everything that is wrong in the criminal system gets worse in the case of capital punishment. People don’t trust the justice of the system.”
And with reasons for that: this year, six more were sentenced to death completely released – now 172 since 1973. The six had spent between 14 and 37 years in prison, and it was found that in all cases there had been misconduct by the prosecution.
There is also the cost-benefit calculation, as Dunham certifies to the Washington Post: during the post-2008 recession, Conservative legislators have subjected the death penalty to a cost-benefit analysis similar to that used for social programs and concluded that it is inefficient.
Biden was in favor of the death penalty, now he is against
2020 was also the year that Colorado joined the 21 states without the death penalty. It happened in March, with Democratic Governor Jared Polis declaring that “the death penalty was never, and never would be, administered equitably in Colorado “, calling attention to figures that it considers to show racial inequality in the judicial system: seven of the 17 people executed this year were either black, or Latino, or Indian; 13 of the victims were white.
According to the aforementioned report from the Death Penalty Information Center, in the November elections, prosecutors were chosen in Los Angeles, Orlando, New Orleans, Tucson, Portland and Austin – cities in states where there is a death penalty – who pledged not to ask for the capital sentence.
And there is, of course, the new president. If Biden was the author of legislation in the 1990s that reinforced the possibility of the federal death penalty and restricted the access of federal prisoners on death row to federal courts and the hypothesis of alleging the unconstitutionality of the sentences, it now appears to have turned 180 degrees.
In his campaign, the president-elect defended the end of the federal death penalty, announcing that he wants to pass a law to end it, and “encourage states to follow the example of the federal government … because we cannot guarantee that the death is always right. “
But Dunham stresses that Biden has responsibility for the killing of Trump: the legislation that the now president-elect passed in the 1990s expanded the crimes that could lead to the death penalty and helped make these latest executions possible. “At one point, Biden believed that capital punishment was a deterrent and that expanding its application would help fight crime,” says Dunham. “But 30 years later it has been proven that there is no end to it. Joe Biden was always in the mainstream of the Democratic Party and his ideas in the 1990s were the mainstream ideas of the party. The dynamics were then completely different now.”
But can Biden end the federal death penalty? You need Congress for that, and with such a divided house, it’s not obvious that you can do it. The solution, Dunham considers, may involve using his clemency power, commuting the death sentences. “If your goal is to end the death penalty and you can’t do it because lawmakers don’t even want to hear about it, then you have no choice if you’re really committed to what you say: you have to exercise your clemency.”
Lisa Montgomery was convicted in 2004 for strangling a pregnant woman
Montgomery’s execution is scheduled for December 8, in the death chamber of the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary, in Indiana. Two days later it will be the turn of Brandon Bernard, 40, who in 1999 killed two young religious men in Texas. Lisa, 52, was instead guilty of a murder that Minister Barr defined as “particularly heinous”: in 2004 she strangled a 29-year-old pregnant woman and, after cutting her belly, kidnapped the eight-month-old girl not yet born and now she is 16 years old.
Up to now, the appeals and requests of Lisa’s lawyers have been of no avail, calling the minister’s decision “a grave injustice”: in fact, the woman has always suffered from severe mental disorders, having lived a childhood and adolescence full of violence and abuse, raped several times from the partner of the mother and then abused also by the two husbands. A condition of psychic distress also aggravated by alcohol dependence. In short, a devastated existence destined to end with a poisonous mix injected into his veins. Even if several organizations for the defense of human rights and fighting against the death penalty promise to fight until the last moment.
To find a woman who was a victim of the federal executioner in the US, you have to go back to 1953, when two were executed. One of them was Ethel Rosenberg, protagonist of one of the darkest and most controversial events of the Cold War years, when with her husband Julius she was sentenced to the electric chair on charges of espionage, for having passed secret information on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The other inmate executed in 1953 is Bonny Heady, sentenced to the gas chamber for killing a 6-year-old boy.
The only other woman in American history sent to death by order of the federal government was in 1865 Mary Suratt, owner of a pension, hanged on charges of taking part in a conspiracy to assassinate the president Abraham Lincoln.