Lisa Montgomery entered the home of a 23-year-old pregnant woman, Bobbie Jo Stinnett. Montgomery murdered Stinnett, cut the baby out of her body, and took the baby home. Stinnett died, and Montgomery was later arrested and convicted of murder. She faces death by lethal injection in December. But there’s hard evidence that Montgomery suffers from severe mental illness. Is the state about to compound the tragedy and kill a mentally ill woman?
Why Did She Do It?
Psychiatrists hired by the defense counsel and the prosecution both agreed Montgomery was mentally ill. According to court documents, “Both Drs. Ramachandran and Logan [psychiatrists retained by the defense] diagnosed Montgomery with depression, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and pseudocyesis [false belief one is pregnant] The government’s expert, Park Dietz, M.D., agreed that Montgomery suffered from depression, borderline personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder but did not diagnose her as suffering from pseudocyesis.” Montgomery was, according to the psychiatrist’s testimony, sexually and physically abused for years by her stepfather. In a later statement, Montgomery’s attorney, assistant public defender Kelley Henry, said that “From a young age, Lisa was sexually trafficked, told she had to ‘earn her keep,’ and repeatedly gang raped by adult men.”
Montgomery’s relationship with her mother was no better. Her mother killed the family dog in front of Montgomery as a punishment, and would, according to Montgomery’s sister, strip them both naked and set them outside the door, telling them they were being kicked out of the home. Montgomery’s mother also allegedly compelled her to marry her own stepbrother.
A jury found Lisa Montgomery guilty. They did note in their findings that she was the victim of sexual abuse by her stepfather; that she was the victim of emotional abuse by her mother; and that she never received proper treatment. Despite this, Montgomery was sentenced to death.
There’s no question that Montgomery is guilty. But does she deserve death? ““Mrs. Montgomery was psychotic at the time of the crime,” says another public defender working on Montgomery’s case. “She has always accepted responsibility. This is someone who was deeply remorseful, once she became appropriately medicated and had full contact with reality, although that is a situation that waxes and wanes.”
With the clock ticking, Montgomery is running out of chances. Advocates are working a last-ditch effort to convince the Trump administration to step in. It remains to see if they’ll be successful.