Lisa Montgomery was put to death early Wednesday morning at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, shortly after the Supreme Court cleared the path for her execution.
Serious doubts about whether Montgomery, who was mentally ill, was competent for execution did not stop the government from killing her.
The 52-year-old, who was convicted of the 2004 murder of a pregnant woman, had been the only woman on death row. For years, she had been housed at a prison in Texas for women with special mental health needs and treated for bipolar disorder and complex PTSD stemming from her abusive childhood.
In the days leading up to her death, her lawyers argued that she was incompetent for execution because she was in a state of psychosis and not meaningfully aware of what was about to happen to her. The Eighth Amendment prohibits executing a prisoner who cannot rationally understand why they are to be executed.
On these grounds, a federal court granted Montgomery a temporary stay less than 24 hours before her execution was scheduled to allow for her mental health to be evaluated, but that hearing never happened. The government appealed the stay and it was overturned by the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
Montgomery was put to death one week before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who opposes the federal death penalty and has said he will work to end its use. Two more executions are scheduled for later this week, although a temporary stay is in place for both.
Less than an hour after Montgomery’s execution, at about 2:30 a.m. local time, HuffPost spoke with her lawyers over the phone. After a flurry of last minute legal filings attempting to save her life, they were finally resting in a hotel near the prison. There, they learned that a number of Bureau of Prisons staff who had assisted in Montgomery’s execution were also staying at the same hotel.
Amy Harwell is one of Montgomery’s attorneys, who contracted COVID-19 in November after...