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DOJ announces two more federal death-row executions

Oct. 16 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it had scheduled the executions of two more federal death-row inmates, bringing the total number of federal executions to nine carried out this year after a 17-year hiatus. Lisa Montgomery and Brandon Bernard are both scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on…

Oct. 16 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it had scheduled the executions of two more federal death-row inmates, bringing the total number of federal executions to nine carried out this year after a 17-year hiatus.

Lisa Montgomery and Brandon Bernard are both scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on December 8 and 10, respectively, at the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Ind., the agency said in a statement.

Montgomery, then 36, of Kansas was accused in 2004 of fatally strangling her pregnant acquaintance, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, cutting open her body, and kidnapping Stinnett’s baby. Prosecutors said Montogmery came to the Missouri home of her friend under the guise of buying a puppy and beat and killed Stinnett, stealing her child, which she tried to pass off as her own.

In 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 recommended a death sentence. Her conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, the DOJ said.

Bernard, who was 19 at the time of the crime, was convicted with accomplices in the murders of two Iowa youth ministers Todd and Stacie Bagley, on a Texas military reservation in 1999. Bernard has been on federal death row for almost 20 years.

In 2017, lawyers for Bernard argued that he deserved a new trial because the former chief judge of the Western District of Texas who oversaw his appeal, was determined to be unfit and forced to retire because of drinking and sexual harassment claims against him. The appeal was denied.

Accomplice Christopher Vialva, who was 20 at the time of the crime, was also convicted in the deaths of the Bagleys. He was executed Sept. 22, at the Terre Haute penitentiary.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year break. Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Purkey and Dustin Honken were executed in July; Lezmond Mitchell and Keith Dwayne Nelson in August; and William LeCroy and Vialva in September.

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