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Who is Lisa Montgomery and why is she facing the death penalty?

Lisa Montgomery, 52, will become the first female inmate to be executed by the U.S. government in 67 years when she will be given a lethal injection in Indiana on 8 December.

Who is Lisa Montgomery and why is she facing the death penalty?
ATTORNEYS FOR LISA MONTGOMERY via REUTERS

Lisa Montgomery will become the first female inmate to be executed in almost seven decades. The 52-year-old has been on death row since 2008 after being charged with kidnapping resulting in death.

On 16 December 2004, Montgomery, entered the home of 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett whom she had befriended on an online chat forum. It is thought that the two women had never met in person until Montgomery called at Stinnett’s house in Skidmore, Missouri, under an assumed alias ‘Darlene Fischer’ a prospective buyer of a rat terrier puppy from Stinnett’s dog-breeding business – Happy Haven Farms. It is believed that Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, let Montgomery into her home believing her to be a legitimate customer. She was subsequently attacked by Montgomery, who strangled her from behind with a piece of cord then slit open her stomach with a kitchen knife, before removing the unborn baby which she then took home. Stinnett was found in a pool of blood about an hour later by her mother Becky Harper, she was rushed to hospital where doctors tried to revive here but pronounced dead soon after arrival.

First US woman to face federal execution in over 60 yearsLisa Montgomery is scheduled to be executed on 8 December.

Montgomery arrested, claiming Stinnett's baby was her own

Montgomery was arrested at her farmhouse in Kansas the following day while the new-born baby girl was returned to its father. In October 2007, she was tried and convicted for "kidnapping resulting in death” - jurors returned a verdict that Montgomery was guilty of murder and on 26 October 2007, she was served a death sentence by Senior District Judge Gary A. Fenner. The prosecution claimed that the attack was premeditated and the death penalty decision was upheld on 4 April 2008.

“[Montgomery] willfully and unlawfully kidnapped, abducted, carried away, and held Victoria Jo Stinnett, for the purpose and benefit of claiming Victoria Jo Stinnett as her child, and willfully transported Victoria Jo Stinnett in interstate commerce from Skidmore, Missouri, across the state line to Melvern, Kansas, the actions of the defendant resulting in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett”.

Montgomery appeal thrown out

Montgomery’s defence team appealed on a number of grounds, arguing that the case lacked expert evidence, that the jury were not properly instructed and that it could not be proved that kidnapping resulted in Stinnett’s death.

Montgomery was diagnosed with depression, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and severe pseudocyesis delusion - “a false belief of being pregnant”. Her appeal was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. She is currently being held at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas. She is the only one of 1,051 inmates at FMC Carswell on death row. She will be transferred to U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana where she will be executed by lethal injection on 8 December.

The last female inmate to be served the federal death penalty was Bonny Brown Heady who was executed at Missouri gas chamber on 18 December 1953. Heady and her boyfriend Carl Austin Hall were found guilty of abducting and murdering six-year-old Bobby Greenlease Jr. in September of that year.