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Woman’s Execution Delay Sought, Lawyers Get COVID-19

Two attorneys representing the only woman with a federal death sentence likely caught COVID-19 at the Texas prison where the woman is being held, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 8 and is awaiting transfer at the Carswell federal prison in Fort Worth. Montgomery was convicted in 2007 of killing an eight-month pregnant woman in Missouri and cutting her unborn child from her womb. Advocacy groups are seeking clemency for Montgomery, who has a history of severe mental illness and sexual abuse. Her attorneys want to delay the execution after her lawyers tested positive for COVID-19.

Lawyers Amy Harwell and Kelley Henry traveled from Nashville to Fort Worth on Oct. 19 to meet with Montgomery and finish her clemency application. Three days after their second visit to Carswell, they both started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. They say their illness has made it impossible to work on the clemency application as her execution looms. “With just days left to complete Mrs. Montgomery’s clemency application and her mental state rapidly deteriorating, neither attorney can visit her,” her legal team said in a court filing. “Nor can they complete the necessary work given their exhaustion and compromised thinking.” Her attorneys say Montgomery’s mental state worsened due to the conditions she faced at Carswell. She was placed in a suicide cell and her underwear was taken away. “As a victim of repeated rape, incest, and child sex trafficking, the loss of her underwear was particularly traumatic,” the lawyers say.