Archive for Sunday, April 1, 2007

Not guilty plea entered in stolen fetus case

April 1, 2007


— Kansas woman accused of killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb has pleaded not guilty to a new version of her indictment.

Lisa Montgomery, 37, of Melvern, Kan., appeared Friday in U.S. District Court for the first time in months. Shackled and dressed in orange jail clothes, she made no public statement other than to answer "yes" when asked by a magistrate judge to confirm she was pleading not guilty.

Montgomery is accused of strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, of Skidmore, Mo., who was eight months pregnant when she was killed at her home on Dec. 16, 2004.

Prosecutors say Montgomery then cut a baby girl from Stinnett's womb and returned to Kansas, where she showed the infant off as her own newborn daughter before she was arrested a day later in Melvern.

The child, Victoria Jo, survived and was returned to her father, Jeb Stinnett.

Montgomery was indicted in January 2005 on one federal count of kidnapping resulting in death.

The new indictment, handed up March 13, retains that charge but adds an allegation that Montgomery took the baby "for the purpose and benefit of claiming Victoria Jo Stinnett as her child."

Prosecutors already had planned to make that argument at trial, but said Friday they added the element to the new indictment to deprive Montgomery of a point that she might make on appeal, should she be convicted.

Montgomery's trial is scheduled to begin April 30 with jury selection.

Defense lawyer Fred Duchardt confirmed Friday that Montgomery's attorneys plan to rely on an insanity defense.

Duchardt suggested that Montgomery's decision to argue that she had had mental problems in December 2004 did not mean she was currently incapacitated.

"We are not contending that Ms. Montgomery is incompetent to go forward with trial," Duchardt said.


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