Federal Government Executes Lisa Montgomery

Updated 01.13.21

The federal government plans to execute Lisa Montgomery Tuesday—one of three executions scheduled during the last full week of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Ms. Montgomery would be the 11th person put to death by the U.S. government in the past six months, and the first woman executed by the federal government in 68 years.

The only woman on federal death row, Ms. Montgomery, 52, suffers from brain damage and severe mental illnesses that result in dissociation and psychosis, as a recent court filing details. She was beaten and sexually trafficked by her mother and stepfather, who built a special room where he and his friends repeatedly raped, sodomized, and even urinated on Lisa.

Hundreds of thousands of people—including prosecutors, child advocates, mental health groups, and anti-sex trafficking and anti-domestic violence groups—have called on President Trump to stop Ms. Montgomery’s execution, citing evidence that the torture and abuse she suffered throughout her childhood left her brain damaged and severely mentally ill at the time of the crime for which she was sentenced to death.

The federal government initially planned to execute Lisa Montgomery on December 8, but a federal court delayed the execution date because her two lead attorneys contracted Covid-19 after visiting her in federal prison. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that her attorneys were presenting her clemency petition (with 5,000 pages of evidence) to the Trump administration last Wednesday when armed rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The Justice Department’s push to execute three people in the days before Trump leaves office caps an unprecedented spree of 10 federal executions since July. An investigative report by ProPublica found that the rush to execute has been characterized by government secrecy, deceit, and misconduct.

Officials gave public explanations for their choice of which prisoners should die that misstated key facts from the cases. They moved ahead with executions in the middle of the night. They left one prisoner strapped to the gurney while lawyers worked to remove a court order. They executed a second prisoner while an appeal was still pending, leaving the court to then dismiss the appeal as “moot” because the man was already dead. They bought drugs from a secret pharmacy that failed a quality test. They hired private executioners and paid them in cash.

Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs are scheduled to be executed on Thursday and Friday, respectively, even though both were diagnosed with Covid-19 in December and are still experiencing symptoms—symptoms that could exacerbate pulmonary edema, a condition caused by execution drugs that results in a torturous sensation of drowning or suffocating, HuffPost reports.

Update: Ms. Montgomery was executed on January 13, 2021.