US schedules 1st federal execution of woman in nearly 70 years

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BY: JULIA JACOBO

(TERRE HAUTE, Indiana) -- The U.S. Department of Justice has scheduled the federal execution of an inmate who was convicted of murdering a pregnant woman, cutting her open and kidnapping the baby from her womb.

Lisa Montgomery will be the first woman to be federally executed in nearly 70 years when her death sentence is carried out on Dec. 8 at the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Montgomery killed Bobbie Jo Stinnett in December 2004 after driving from Kansas to Stinnett's home in Missouri under the pretense of buying a puppy, according to the Justice Department.

Once inside, Montgomery strangled Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, causing her to lose consciousness. She regained consciousness when Montgomery cut her open with a kitchen knife, which led to a struggle, authorities said.

Montgomery then strangled Stinnett again until she died and removed the baby, who she attempted to pass off as her own.

She later confessed to murdering Stinnett and abducting her child and was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in October 2007 for federal kidnapping resulting in death. The jury unanimously recommended a death sentence, which the court imposed, and her conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal.

Montgomery's request for collateral relief was rejected by every court that considered it.

The last federal execution of a woman occurred in September 1953, when Bonnie Heady was killed in a gas chamber.

Heady was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Bobby Greenlease, the 6-year-old son of a millionaire automobile dealer, according to the FBI. Heady had killed the boy soon after the kidnapping but still received $600,000 from his parents after assuring them he was alive and would be returned within 24 hours.

The Justice Department also announced the scheduling for the execution for Brandon Bernard, who, along with accomplices in 1999, murdered two youth ministers, Todd and Stacie Bagley, on a military reservation in Fort Hood.

The couple was forced into the trunk of their car after agreeing to give a ride to several of Bernard's accomplices, who then drove the couple around for hours while attempting to steal their money and pawn Stacie Bagley's wedding ring, according to authorities.

Todd and Stacie Bagley spoke with their abductors about God and pleaded for their lives while locked in the trunk of their car. The car was later parked on the military reservation and doused with lighter fluid while the couple prayed and sang hymns inside.

After Stacie Bagley said, "Jesus loves you," and "Jesus, take care of us," one of the accomplices shot both of them in the head. Bernard then lit the car on fire.

Todd Bagley died from the gunshot wound, while Stacie Bagley died of smoke inhalation, authorities said.

A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas unanimously recommended a death sentence after they found Bernard guilty of two counts of murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, among other offenses, in 2000.

Bernard's conviction and sentence were also affirmed on appeal, and a request for collateral relief was rejected by every court that considered it.

His execution is scheduled to take place on Dec. 10 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The first federal execution in nearly two decades was carried out in July. Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted of murdering, an Arkansas family in 1996, was executed by lethal injection at the federal prison facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.

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