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Attorneys for woman on death row head to Supreme Court, pleading with Trump to read clemency petition

Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, said on Tuesday that they plan to go to the Supreme Court after losing their latest legal attempt to stop next week’s execution.

Montgomery, 52, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on January 12 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Her attorneys, family and supporters pleaded on Tuesday with President Donald Trump to read their clemency petition and make an executive decision to commute her sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2008 by a Missouri jury for the 2004 murder of a pregnant woman, cutting the fetus out and kidnapping it. The baby survived.

She will be the 11th person scheduled to be executed after the federal government took a 16-year break. In November, the Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons rescheduled Montgomery’s execution, which had originally been set for December 8, to January 12 after two of her attorneys were diagnosed with Covid.

Professor Sandra Babcock, an attorney on Montgomery’s case, said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday that the Bureau of Prisons had acted illegally when it rescheduled the execution date. The US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, disagreed on Friday and reinstated the date. The court on Tuesday rejected a petition to reconsider that ruling.

The attorneys said on Tuesday that they intend to take the execution rescheduling case to the Supreme Court. “We have legal avenues that remain open to us. We will be fighting as hard as possible to prevent this execution from taking place,” Babcock said.

Meanwhile, the attorneys hope Trump will read their clemency petition in order to understand that Montgomery’s case is like 16 others of women who committed similar crimes but, Babcock said, “not a single woman is currently facing the death penalty.”

Montgomery suffers from severe mental illness and was a victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her mother, her attorneys say.

“We are asking for President Trump to please hear our plea. He can be a hero,” said Kelley Henry, one of Montgomery’s attorneys who recovered from Covid. “In this case … he can make a very public statement about the importance of ending the stigmatization of mental illness.”

The White House declined to comment. A request for comment from the Justice Department regarding the clemency petition was not immediately returned.

“We are not in any way trying to diminish the consequences of Lisa’s actions,” Babcock said. “What we are saying is that Lisa’s actions were attributable to the harm that was done to her long before she entered the criminal legal system.”

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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