'Womb raider' execution halted because her lawyers got COVID-19

November 19, 2020 

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the execution of a notorious killer dubbed the "womb raider" -- who killed a pregnant woman and cut out her baby -- after her lawyers contracted coronavirus while visiting her in a federal lockup, a report said.

The order by Judge Randolph Moss in Washington, D.C., will stop the Bureau of Prisons from executing Lisa Montgomery until at least the end of the year, the Associated Press reported.

Montgomery, who was scheduled to be executed on Dec. 8, would be the first woman executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years. She was convicted in 2007 of strangling a pregnant woman to death in Missouri, cutting her unborn baby from her womb and attempting to raise the kid as her own.

Her attorneys, Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell, were seeking to delay her execution with a clemency petition when they contracted the deadly virus after visiting her in a Texas prison facility.

They took two roundtrip flight, stayed in hotels and interacted with prison staff during their visit, they said in court papers.

Montgomery's legal team had argued in court filings that she needs legal representation to help with her petition because she suffers from severe mental illness, the AP reported.

In his ruling Thursday, Judge Moss wrote that if the execution took place as scheduled, Montgomery would lose her "statutory right to meaningful representation."

A lawyer who has worked on her case told the AP that Montgomery's childhood trauma provided a compelling case for clemency.

"Mrs. Montgomery's case presents compelling grounds for clemency, including her history as a victim of gang rape, incest, and child sex trafficking, as well as her severe mental illness. She will now have the opportunity to present this evidence to the President with a request that he commute her sentence to life imprisonment," Attorney Sandra Babcock said.

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