Federal execution scheduled for Lisa Montgomery, formerly of Melvern

A former Melvern woman has been scheduled to be executed on Dec. 8, 2020, as announced Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lisa Montgomery

The department’s announcement said U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr had directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of two federal death-row inmates, including Lisa Montgomery, 52, formerly of Melvern, Kan., who was convicted of killing a pregnant woman and stealing her baby. Also set for execution was Brandon Bernard, who with accomplices brutally murdered two youth ministers.

In the Oct. 16 announcement, the department noted Montgomery was convicted of fatally strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, cutting open her body and kidnapping the baby.

In December 2004, as part of a premeditated murder-kidnap scheme, Montgomery drove from her home in Kansas to Stinnett’s home in Missouri, purportedly to purchase a puppy. Once inside the residence, Montgomery attacked and strangled Stinnett until the victim lost consciousness. Using a kitchen knife, Montgomery then cut into Stinnett’s abdomen, causing her to regain consciousness. A struggle ensued, and Montgomery strangled Stinnett to death. Montgomery then removed the baby from Stinnett’s body, took the baby with her, and attempted to pass it off as her own. Montgomery subsequently confessed to murdering Stinnett and abducting her child.

In October 2007, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Montgomery guilty of federal kidnapping resulting in death, and unanimously recommended a death sentence, which the court imposed. Her conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and her request for collateral relief was rejected by every court that considered it.

Montgomery is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Dec. 8, at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana. Her federal execution will be the first for a woman in almost 70 years, and is set to be the ninth execution carried out since the federal government recently resumed executions after a 17-year hiatus.

In Bernard’s case, he was convicted for his part in the 1999 murder of two youth ministers, Todd and Stacie Bagley, at Ft. Hood military reservation. Bernard and his accomplices terrorized the couple before shooting them and lighting their car on fire with them inside, killing both. In June 2000, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas found Bernard guilty of two counts of murder and unanimously recommended a death sentence. Bernard is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Dec. 10, at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute. One of his accomplices, Christopher Vialva, was executed Sept. 22 for his role in the Bagleys’ murders.

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