First execution of woman in federal prison since 1953 set for December

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A Kansas woman convicted of fatally strangling a woman who was eight months pregnant, and then slicing open her body to kidnap her unborn baby, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Dec. 8, federal authorities said.

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U.S. Attorney William Barr on Friday said Lisa M. Montgomery was one of two inmates scheduled for execution at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, The Kansas City Star reported. She will be the eighth person executed in federal prison this year after a 17-year hiatus, CNN reported.

Montgomery, 52, will be the first woman executed by the U.S. government since Bonnie Brown Heady was put to death on Dec. 18, 1953, according to U.S. Bureau of Prisons records. On June 19, 1953, Ethel Rosenberg was executed for espionage, along with her husband, Julius Rosenberg. Both were put to death in the electric chair.

Montgomery was convicted in October 2007 of one count of kidnapping resulting in death, the Star reported. She was convicted in the Dec. 16, 2004, strangling death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, of Skidmore, Missouri, according to federal court records.

According to federal prosecutors, Montgomery drove from her home in Melvern, Kansas, to Stinnett’s home, purportedly to buy a puppy, the Star reported. However, once inside the home, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett until the victim lost consciousness.

Using a kitchen knife, Montgomery cut into Stinnet’s abdomen, causing her to regain consciousness, according to the Star. The two women fought and Montgomery then strangled Stinnett to death, the newspaper reported.

Montgomery then cut the fetus from Stinnett’s womb and tried to pass the baby off as her own, according to the Star. The child was later safely recovered.

Stinnett’s death was carried out in “an especially heinous, cruel and depraved manner,” according to court records.

The other execution ordered by Barr will be carried out Dec. 10 against Brandon Bernard, who was convicted of killing two youth ministers on a military reservation in Texas in 1999, CNN reported.

Bernard’s co-defendant, Christopher Andre Vialva, was executed on Sept. 24 in Terre Haute.