A federal judge ruled that the Justice Department unlawfully rescheduled the execution of the only woman on federal death row. The decision may force the Trump administration to schedule the execution for after president-elect Joe Biden takes office, the Associated Press reports. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss vacated an order from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) setting Lisa Montgomery’s execution date for Jan. 12. Montgomery had been scheduled to be put to death at the Terre Haute, In., federal prison this month, but Moss delayed the execution after her attorneys contracted coronavirus visiting her and asked for a time extension to file a clemency petition.
Moss barred the execution in 2020, and officials rescheduled it for Jan. 12. Moss ruled that the agency was prohibited from rescheduling the date while a stay was in place. BOP cannot reschedule the execution until at least Jan. 1. Generally, a death-row inmate must be notified at least 20 days before the execution. If the Justice Department chooses to reschedule the date in January, it could mean that the execution would be scheduled after Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Montgomery was convicted of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from the womb, authorities said. Two other federal inmates are scheduled to be executed in January but have tested positive for coronavirus. Their attorneys are seeking delays of their executions.