Source AP ©

Woman convicted of killing pregnant woman to face death penalty

A jury in Missouri decided to sentence the woman convicted of killing an expectant mother and cutting her baby from her womb to death.

Jurors deliberated for more than five hours before recommending the sentence for Lisa Montgomery. Prosecutors say a judge will sentence Montgomery, but is obligated to abide by the jury's recommendation.

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, Kansas, 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.

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."

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