Bar Exams in the Pandemic JURIST Digital Scholars
DOJ schedules first federal execution of a woman in almost 70 years
© WikiMedia (CACorrections)
DOJ schedules first federal execution of a woman in almost 70 years

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Friday that it will execute two federal inmates, Brandon Bernard and Lisa Montgomery, in December.

Montgomery was convicted for her part in a premeditated murder-kidnap scheme where she fatally strangled a pregnant woman named Bobbie Jo Stinnett, cut her open, and then kidnapped her baby. Her lawyers argued that the death penalty was not warranted because “Montgomery’s childhood sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder predisposed her to pseudocyesis,” the false belief of being pregnant. However, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed the district court’s ruling to impose the death penalty. Montgomery will be the first woman to be executed since Bonnie Brown Heady‘s execution in 1953. Montgomery is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on December 8, 2020.

In addition, the DOJ announced that Bernard, who was convicted of the murder of two youth ministers on a military reservation in 2000, will also be killed by lethal injection in December. One of Bernard’s accomplices, Christopher Vialva, was executed in September.

With nearly a two decade hiatus since a federal execution, the increase in scheduled executions can be attributed to Attorney General William Barr’s directive to the FBI to resume executions of death-row inmates.