Published on: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A federal court granted Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, a stay of execution pending a competency hearing -- less than 24 hours before she was scheduled to be killed (article available here).

The U.S District Court for the Southern District of Indiana wrote in the order granting the stay, "Ms. Montgomery's motion to stay execution is GRANTED to allow the Court to conduct a hearing to determine Ms. Montgomery's competence to be executed." Montgomery, 52, was scheduled to killed by lethal injection on Tuesday, January 12 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

"As discussed elsewhere in this order, Ms. Montgomery has been diagnosed with physical brain impairments and multiple mental illnesses, and three experts are of the opinion that, based on conduct and symptoms reported to them by counsel, Ms. Montgomery's perception of reality is currently distorted and impaired," the court wrote.

Prosecutors have filed a notice to appeal the district court's ruling.

"The Court was right to put a stop to Lisa Montgomery's execution," her attorney said in a statement. "As the court found, Mrs. Montgomery 'made a strong showing' of her current incompetence to be executed. Mrs. Montgomery has brain damage and severe mental illness that was exacerbated by the lifetime of sexual torture she suffered at the hands of caretakers."   "The Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of people like Mrs. Montgomery who, due to their severe mental illness or brain damage, do not understand the basis for their executions. Mrs. Montgomery is mentally deteriorating and we are seeking an opportunity to prove her incompetence," her attorney added. Lisa Montgomery also has a petition before the U.S. Supreme Court.