US government to execute first woman since 1953

The federal government, continuing its string of executions this year, has set the dates for two more, including the first woman in more than six decades.

Lisa Montgomery is expected to receive lethal injection on December 8, the Justice Department says. In 2004, she was convicted of strangling a Missouri woman who was eight-months pregnant, then cut out and kidnapped the baby.

Death Penalty Fast Facts

The last woman executed by the US government was Bonnie Brown Heady on Dec. 18, 1953, according to US Bureau of Prisons records, for kidnapping and murder.

Also in 1953, Ethel Rosenberg was famously executed for espionage, along with her husband, Julius.

Montgomery’s execution will be the Justice Department’s eighth this year after a 17-hear hiatus.

The ninth execution will be Brandon Bernard, who was convicted of killing two youth ministers on a military reservation in Texas in 1999. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on December 10.

Bernard’s co-defendant, Christopher Vialva, was executed on September 22.

Both Montgomery and Bernard are held at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Before this year, the federal government had not executed anyone since 2003, and just four people since the 1960, Bureau of Prisons records show.

Attorneys for Montgomery and Bernard said executing them would be unjust.

Kelley Henry said Montgomery, her client, is mentally ill, suffered horrible childhood abuse, and had poor representation at trial.

Bernard is a peaceable prisoner who was 18 at the time of the killings and had no violent record, said his attorney Robert C. Owen.

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