General William P. Barr today directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to
schedule the executions of two federal death-row inmates, both of whom
were convicted of especially heinous murders at least 13 years ago.
Lisa Montgomery fatally strangled a pregnant
woman, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, cut open her body, and kidnapped her 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—who was eight months pregnant—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 December
8, 2020, at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana.
Brandon Bernard and his accomplices brutally
murdered two youth ministers, Todd and Stacie Bagley, on a military
reservation in 1999. After Todd Bagley agreed to give a ride to several
of Bernard’s accomplices, they pointed a gun at him, forced him and
Stacie into the trunk of their car, and drove the couple around for
hours while attempting to steal their money and pawn Stacie’s wedding
ring. While locked in the trunk, the couple spoke with their abductors
about God and pleaded for their lives. The abductors eventually parked
on the Fort Hood military reservation, where Bernard and another
accomplice doused the car with lighter fluid as the couple, still locked
in the trunk, sang and prayed. After Stacie said, “Jesus loves you,”
and “Jesus, take care of us,” one of the accomplices shot both Todd and
Stacie in the head—killing Todd and knocking Stacie unconscious.
Bernard then lit the car on fire, killing Stacie through smoke
inhalation. In June 2000, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the
Western District of Texas found Bernard guilty of, among other offenses,
two counts of murder within the special maritime and territorial
jurisdiction of the United States, and unanimously recommended a death
sentence. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and his
request for collateral relief was rejected by every court that
considered it. Bernard is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection
on December 10, 2020, at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana. One of
his accomplices, Christopher Vialva, was executed for his role in the
Bagleys’ murder on September 22, 2020.
What took our court system so long to deside?