Kansas City, Mo. Lisa Montgomery has had a tumultuous life that included being abandoned by her father and sexually abused by her stepfather, according to testimony from several witnesses, including her mother, Friday in Montgomery's federal trial.
Montgomery, 39, is accused of killing Bobbie Joe Stinnett, 23, and cutting the baby from her womb on Dec. 16, 2004, at Stinnett's home in Skidmore. Montgomery has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping resulting in death. Her lawyers are pursuing an insanity defense.
Montgomery's defense team admits that Montgomery committed the crimes but has said it will show that she suffered from mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by abuse from her stepfather when Montgomery was a teenager.
Judy Shaughnessy, Montgomery's mother, testified that her daughter faked several pregnancies since undergoing a tubal ligation after the birth of her fourth child in 1990. She said she tried to persuade Montgomery to be truthful but "it didn't do any good."
When a man congratulated Shaughnessy for being a grandmother again on Dec. 17, 2004, she didn't know what he was talking about. When told that Montgomery had been showing off a new baby in her hometown of Melvern, Kan., Shaughnessy said her first reaction was "she either bought it or stole it."
Montgomery was arrested that evening in Melvern and the baby was returned to her father.
Later in her testimony, Shaughnessy cried when discussing the crimes, saying it upset her because she knew what it was like to be a mother.
"For Lisa to do something like that ... that was Bobbie Jo's first baby, Lisa just had no right to do that," she said.
History of abuse
But the crimes Montgomery is accused of were not the focus of most of Friday's testimony, which instead centered on the abuse Montgomery and her siblings endured as children. A parade of witnesses, including several siblings and step-siblings, discussed not only the sexual abuse they say Montgomery suffered from her stepfather but also mistreatment by her mother.
Shaughnessy testified that she caught her then-husband, Jack Kleiner, having sex with Lisa in 1984. But she acknowledged that she never filed a formal police complaint, in part because she said Kleiner had threatened her and the children.
Some of Montgomery's siblings and step-siblings testified that they knew Kleiner was repeatedly sexually abusing her. They described Kleiner as an alcoholic who often beat them, especially the girls, and said Shaughnessy did nothing to protect her daughters until she divorced Kleiner in 1985.
Shaughnessy's daughter, Patty Baldwin, testified that Kleiner would take her into a bathroom, make her pull down her pants and beat her with a belt. Becky Perkey, Montgomery's stepsister, said Kleiner used his fist on her and hit her with a telephone receiver. Teddy Kleiner said his father used a belt on all the children.
In videotaped testimony, Kleiner, of Manhattan, Kan., who was too ill to travel to Kansas City, denied having sex with Montgomery and said he could not remember ever physically abusing his daughters.
When presented with a transcript of his and Shaughnessy's divorce proceedings during which he had admitted some physical abuse, Kleiner said he didn't have a good memory.
The defense has said that Shaughnessy deepened the damage done to Montgomery by telling others that Montgomery had enticed Kleiner and stolen her husband. While Shaughnessy denied ever saying that, other witnesses testified that she had blamed Montgomery for the sexual encounters with her stepfather.
David Kidwell, Shaughnessy's nephew, testified that she had told him she believed Montgomery "had brought it on herself, that she enticed him."
And Pat Brunton, a former social worker for the state of Kansas who was involved in a custody dispute involving one of Shaughnessy's grandsons, also said Shaughnessy told her that Montgomery seduced Kleiner. She called Shaughnessy a manipulative, dishonest woman who pitted her children against each other so that she could be the center of attention.
Of the 200 families she worked with during her social services career, Brunton said Shaughnessy and her children were "easily the second most dysfunctional family I've ever worked with."
Earlier Friday, Montgomery's father, John Patterson, told jurors he left his wife and children when Montgomery was 3 or 4 years old because his wife, Judy, drank heavily and cheated on him frequently.
Besides convicting or acquitting her, jurors have the option of finding Montgomery not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors have announced plans to seek the death penalty.
If Montgomery is found not guilty by reason of insanity, she would undergo a mental evaluation and a judge would decide if she will be released or committed to a mental institution.