(AP) – A judge has halted the U.S. government’s first execution of a female inmate in nearly seven decades, saying a court must first determine whether the Kansas woman who killed an expectant mother, cut the baby from her womb and then tried to pass off the newborn as her own is mentally competent.
The order, handed down less than 24 hours before Lisa Montgomery was set to be executed Tuesday at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, temporarily blocks the federal Bureau of Prisons from moving forward with her execution. The Justice Department didn’t immediately comment.
Montgomery’s lawyers have said their client suffers from hallucinations — including hearing her abusive mother’s voice — as well as a disoriented sense of reality and gaps in her consciousness. They have long argued that she is not mentally fit to be executed because she suffers from serious mental illness and faced years of emotional and sexual trauma as a child.