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Published: 10/26/2007

Mo. jury decides on death for woman who killed expectant mom to get baby

ASSOCIATED PRESS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. A federal jury decided today that a woman convicted of killing an expectant mother and cutting her baby from her womb should receive the death penalty.

Jurors deliberated more than five hours before recommending the sentence for Lisa Montgomery. Judge Gary Fenner will sentence Montgomery, but he had told jurors he was obligated to abide by their recommendation. A sentencing date has not been set.

Montgomery, 39, was convicted Monday of kidnapping and killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett on Dec. 16, 2004, in the victim s home in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore. She was arrested the next day in Melvern, Kan., where she was showing off the newborn as her own.

Montgomery wiped her eyes with a tissue as the jury announced its sentencing decision. Her attorney, Fred Duchardt, had his hand on her shoulder.

When the jurors were asked if they agreed with the decision, each responded: Yes, your honor. Afterward, the jury asked to speak to prosecutors and defense attorneys but did not say why.

Lisa Montgomery s husband, Kevin, and his parents were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read but came in as the jurors left. The family then went into another room without speaking to reporters.

Prosecutors argued that Stinnett s killing and mutilation is the kind of crime for which capital punishment is intended.

Showing jurors photos of the bloody crime scene, the prosecution told jurors Thursday that Montgomery deserves to die because of the heinousness of her crime, and because computer evidence including Internet searches on performing Caesareans shows the crime was premeditated.

Federal prosecutor Roseann Ketchmark said Montgomery had violated Stinnett in the most wicked way possible, then failed to seek medical attention for the infant, who was four weeks shy of her due date.

Defense attorney Fred Duchardt, who claims sexual abuse during Montgomery s childhood led to mental illness, asked the jury to spare his client s life. He said emotional abuse from her mother and sexual abuse from her stepfather killed Lisa s soul.

I m not ashamed to ask you all for mercy, Duchardt told the jury. I ask for it on behalf of Lisa and all the people who love her.

Prosecutors claimed Montgomery was faking mental illness to aid her defense. They also noted that few of the many people who have been sexually abused go on to kill.

Ketchmark showed jurors crime scene photos highlighting the blows to Stinnett s head, injuries to her elbows, defensive cuts to her hands and strangulation marks.

Look at the ragged abdominal cuts, she said. This is vicious. This defendant mutilated her.

Ketchmark also described how the gruesome death had hurt Stinnett s family, particularly her husband, Zeb, who was forced to raise their daughter alone, and her mother, Becky Harper, who found her daughter s body.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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