TERRE HAUTE, IN (KCTV/AP) -- A judge has granted a stay in what was slated to be the U.S. government's first execution of a female inmate in more than 67 years.

Lisa Montgomery was granted a stay of execution Monday by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Judge Patrick Hanlon granted the stay late Monday, citing the need to determine Montgomery’s mental competence.

Montgomery faced execution Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, just eight days before President-elect Joe Biden, an opponent of the federal death penalty, takes office.

A stay is significant because it means the any new proposed execution would fall under Biden’s new administration. Biden has been clear he does not support the death penalty.

Montgomery’s attorneys had petitioned the court to stop the execution because Montgomery was losing touch with reality.

The court agreed that a person must be competent to be executed. A prisoner must be able to appreciate the meaning of a community's judgment."

Montgomery drove about 170 miles (273.59 kilometers) from her Melvern, Kansas, farmhouse to the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore under the guise of adopting a rat terrier puppy from Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old dog breeder. She strangled Stinnett with a rope before performing a crude cesarean and fleeing with the baby.

She was arrested the next day after showing off the premature infant, Victoria Jo, who is now 16 years old and hasn’t spoken publicly about the tragedy.

Prosecutors said her motive was that Stinnett's ex-husband knew she had undergone a tubal ligation that made her sterile and planned to reveal she was lying about being pregnant in an effort to get custody of two of their four children. Needing a baby before a fast-approaching court date, Montgomery turned her focus on Stinnett, whom she had met at dog shows.

Supporters of Montgomery argued it’s cruel to kill her because she suffered severe physical, mental and sexual abuse growing up which led to her severe mental illness and brain damage.

The family of Stinnett has asked for privacy regarding the upcoming execution which has been set, delayed, cancelled, reset then cancelled again all in a matter of months.

“The Court was right to put a stop to Lisa Montgomery’s execution. As the court found, Mrs. Montgomery ‘made a strong showing’ of her current incompetence to be executed. The Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of people like Mrs. Montgomery who, due to their severe mental illness or brain damage, do not understand the basis for their executions. Mrs. Montgomery is mentally deteriorating and we are seeking an opportunity to prove her incompetence,” said attorney Kelly Henry.

Montgomery originally was scheduled to be put to death on Dec. 8. But the execution was temporarily blocked after her attorneys contracted the coronavirus visiting her in prison.

The resumption of federal executions after a 17-year pause started on July 14. Anti-death penalty groups said President Donald Trump was pushing for executions prior to the November election in a cynical bid to burnish a reputation as a law-and-order leader.

U.S. officials have portrayed the executions as bringing long-delayed justice for victims and their families.

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