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Who is Lisa Montgomery? Why is she facing the death penalty and when was the last female inmate executed in the United States?



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The US government has scheduled the first federal execution of a female inmate in almost 70 years.

Lisa Montgomery, who is in jail after strangling a pregnant woman to death before stealing her baby, is set be executed by lethal injection. The last woman to be executed by the US government was Bonnie Heady, who was put to death in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.

The US justice department has also scheduled a December 10 execution for Brandon Bernard, who with his accomplices murdered two youth ministers in 1999. The two executions will be the eighth and ninth that the federal government has carried out in 2020.

Here’s what you need to know:

Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on December 8 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute (AP)

Who is the first woman to be executed?

Lisa Montgomery was a housewife in Missouri. She had a history of phantom pregnancies and had had an operation preventing her from becoming pregnant. Her lawyers claim that she has brain damage from beatings she received as a child.

Why was her crime?

Ms Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the north west Missouri town of Skidmore in December 2004.

She drove from her Kansas home to Stinnett’s house in Skidmore under the guise of adopting a rat terrier puppy, prosecutors said.

When she arrived at the home, Montgomery used a rope to strangle Ms Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, but Ms Stinnett was conscious and trying to defend herself as Montgomery used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from the womb, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Montgomery removed the baby from Ms Stinnett’s body, took the child with her, and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.

When will she be executed?

Ms Montgomery is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on December 8 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

What is the law around capital punishment?

The death penalty was outlawed by a 1972 Supreme Court decision.

However, states were given the right to reinstate the death penalty in 1976.

This was then followed by the death penalty being made available at a federal level in 1988.

The Trump administration ended an informal 17-year-hiatus in federal executions in July, after announcing last year that the Bureau of Prisons was switching to a new single-drug protocol for lethal injections, from a three-drug combination it last used in 2003.

When was the last time a female inmate was put to death?

The last woman to be executed by the US government was Bonnie Heady, who was put to death in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.

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