The execution of a murderer dubbed "the womb raider" after she killed a pregnant woman to carve out her unborn child and pass it off as her own has been delayed.
Lisa Montgomery, now 52, was convicted in 2007 of kidnapping and strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant.
The women were already acquaintances from the local dog showing circuit in Fairfax, Missouri, and Montgomery not only knew Stinnett was pregnant, but also told mutual friends she was expecting too – not that they ever saw a bump.
She also tricked her husband into believing that she was pregnant.
Then, just before Christmas, she invented a new persona, Darlene Fischer, who claimed she was interested in buying one of Stinnett's puppies.
The unsuspecting victim, eight months pregnant at the time, waited for "Darlene" to come over while her husband was at work and was ambushed by Lisa.
After strangling her with a piece of thick cord, she cut the baby out of her victim's womb. The tiny girl survived and Montgomery, who tried to pass her off as her own, was arrested the next day.
She was due to be executed on December 8 but it has since been put on hold after Montgomery's lawyer became ill with coronavirus.
The baby, named Victoria Jo by her dad, Zeb, has now turned 16.
Montgomery will be the first woman to be executed by the US federal government for almost 70 years – after Donald Trump stunned lawyers by issuing her death warrant.
But the baby-snatcher's lawyers and loved ones have called for her life to be spared, citing that the killer has long suffered from severe mental illness and was the victim of sexual assault.
They claim the jury were told little of her vast mental health problems – caused by years of rape, trafficking and torture.
Her sister Diane Mattingly said: “My heart goes out to the family of Bobbie Jo Stinnett and the loss that they have felt.
Killer who ripped unborn baby from victim 'should be spared from execution' beg family
“But my hope is President Trump will stop Lisa’s execution and commute her sentence to life in prison.
“My sister does not deserve to die. She is not the worst of the worst for whom the death penalty was intended. She is the most broken of the broken.”
Montgomery's lawyer Kelley Henry added that her mental health has worsened now she has to live with the “overwhelming pain” of what she did to Bobbie Jo.
She said: “Lisa is incredibly remorseful. She was spiralling out of control when it happened. She was tortured from birth and repeatedly gang-raped. That causes your mind to detach from reality."
Her execution has been put on hold as a judge has ruled the Justice Department broke the law when it was rescheduled.
Rapist, 76, was just 13 when he started sickening attacks and is now behind bars
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss on Thursday vacated an order from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which is part of the Justice Department, that had rescheduled convicted murderer Montgomery's execution to January 12.
Her execution had originally been due to take place on December 8 but Judge Moss delayed the punishment after Montgomery's lawyers became ill with coronavirus.
This meant they were unable to file a timely clemency petition on her behalf but her execution was rescheduled until January 12.
The judge then sided with Montgomery's lawyers, who argued a new date for her execution cannot be set until after January 1.
This would push it back until after Joe Biden, a known opponent of the death penalty, takes office on January 20.
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