Good evening from the FCC Terre Haute Training Center, where reporters are gathered to cover the execution of Lisa Montgomery. There is more press than usual tonight. Some, including myself, are here for the 11th time since July 2020.
Non-witnessing press are currently being briefed by BOP spokesperson Scott Taylor, who just told us that the victim’s family will not be addressing reporters after the execution.
These are the vans that take media witnesses to the penitentiary. The execution was originally scheduled for 6pm, but multiple stays have been in place at various times and litigation is ongoing. Everyone agrees it could be a long night and that this will come down to SCOTUS.
Across from the training center, the flag is flying at half staff.
I stopped by the Dollar General earlier. This is where people gather to protest the execution. Activists like @AbolitionAshley (holding the All Life Is Precious sign) sued the Indiana State Police to have access to the space, which sits directly across from the penitentiary.
A lot of excellent reporters have covered Montgomery’s case & laid out her harrowing childhood, severe mental illness & the tragic incompetence of her defense attorneys. Among them is @quasimado, who wrote one of the first stories last year & has covered it extensively. Follow:
Indiana Public Media colleagues @georgehale and @AdamPinsker, both of whom have witnessed way too many of these executions since last summer, also produced this crucial mini-documentary about the case:…
As many know, Montgomery's lawyers contracted Covid-19 last fall as a direct result of traveling to see her. Part of the surreal cruelty of this execution spree has been in callously forcing defense attorneys to gamble their health to fulfill their obligation to their clients.
Was just told by BOP spokesperson Scott Taylor that we won’t be getting any further update until 9pm. We’re free to go and come back then.
Many people have interviewed Montgomery's defense atty Kelley Henry, who is fighting alongside her colleagues to save her client. Those of us in Nashville also know her as the lawyer for people on TN's death row. My friend @iamstevenhale profiled her here:…
Kelley Henry, Amy Harwell & the Federal Public Defender's office in Nashville also were the first to publicly present evidence that has since become central to the ongoing litigation around lethal injection. Specifically, the risk of flash pulmonary edema.…
Last Tuesday, as Henry briefed reporters via Zoom on Montgomery's clemency petition, lawyers for Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs were in a 5+ hour evidentiary hearing arguing that, bc their clients got sick with Covid, they are at even higher risk of experiencing pulmonary edema.
Update from media witness (who has witnessed many times before). I'm not at the media center but will be soon.
Back at the media center, in my car, waiting on SCOTUS. No one is feeling optimistic. We've been here too many times. For the condemned and their loved ones, these stays are among the most wretched parts of this process. People try not to get their hopes up too much, but they do.
When I interviewed the son of Orlando Hall, who also got a temporary stay, he said his dad told him on the phone not to get his hopes up. He was in Terre Haute, looking for updates on Twitter. That's how he learned his father's execution would proceed.…
Something else he said, which didn't make it into the piece, is that he later found himself scrolling Twitter on the night of Brandon Bernard's execution. He said it brought back the trauma from the night his dad was killed. He could feel what Brandon's family was going through.
FYI for anyone who is confused. (And understandable if you're confused, because this process is confusing, and not a lot of people can accurately distinguish and distill pending legal questions in real time like Rob.)
A reminder. (Also, Daniel Lee spent 4 hours on the gurney while litigation continued. They eventually killed him in the morning, without notifying his attorneys. As one of his lawyers told me, "I learned that he was executed from a tweet.")
Moments after SCOTUS rules, the vans get ready to take media witnesses to the penitentiary. The execution of Lisa Montgomery is moving forward.
The vans have pulled out.
People are still at the Dollar General. It’s quiet. They usually toll a large bell at the hour of execution. But they don’t have it. They are playing a recording. Sister Barbara Battista, who was a spiritual advisor for two of the men put to death in 2020, is holding the phone.
Just waiting now.
Just got an email from Montgomery's lawyer, Kelley Henry: "They denied Lisa a prayer with her spiritual adviser."
This is the full statement released earlier by Henry. "Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame."
There is more to say but it's approaching 3AM. Leaving it here. There are two more executions this week.

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More from @LilianaSegura

19 Nov 20
Hello from Terre Haute, IN, where the Trump administration plans to execute 49-year-old Orlando Hall tonight. There is a stay currently in place, which I only found out about upon arriving at the media center a little while ago. Of course, this could change.
By now there are several familiar faces at the FCC Terre Haute Training Center, from the BOP official who lets us in to park, to the lady taking temperatures, to the spokesperson who gives the brief media orientation. These are the vans that take press witnesses to the prison.
Ordinarily BOP staffers provide little to no information to press about the status of appeals, etc. But we have been told there is “activity in the courts” and that it could be a long night. As far as the DOJ is concerned, the execution will happen, it is just a matter of when.
Read 31 tweets
24 Sep 20
Good morning from Terre Haute, IN, where the DOJ plans to kill another man in the federal death chamber tonight--the 7th since July. Christopher Vialva was 19 when he killed a young couple in Fort Hood, TX. His co-defendant is also on death row. He was 18.…
At 40, Vialva isn't the youngest man to face execution under Trump. Lezmond Mitchell was 38 when he died last month. Both did horrific things at 19. Advocates for both also describe how they grew up, showed remorse, contributed to the world around them.…
When the Supreme Court struck down death sentences for juveniles in 2005, it was on the basis that young people are less culpable for their crimes. Scientific research has long shown that brain development continues well into our 20s. None of us are the same people we were at 19.
Read 25 tweets
22 Sep 20
So, I’m back in Terre Haute, IN, where the Trump DOJ is preparing to carry out its 6th federal execution since July. These vans were at the FCC Terre Haute Training Center a moment ago, but they just left, carrying media witnesses for the killing of William LeCroy at 6pm. Image
It's hard to know what more to say right now. This is my third trip to Terre Haute this year, following a couple of visits in 2019. Some previous coverage here:… & here… & here…
When I first visited Terre Haute last year, my first stop was the local library, which has a small archive related to the federal penitentiary. When it opened in 1940, a fawning press described it as “a hospital to cure men of tendencies which make them socially undesirable.”
Read 28 tweets
9 Sep 20
I wrote (again) about the events in Terre Haute, where the Trump administration killed two more people last month. At least two more federal executions are set for this year, with additional dates likely to be on the way.…
One thing I want to quickly highlight is an interview I got too late to include in my previous piece about Lezmond Mitchell, whose lawyers tried unsuccessfully to get permission from the court to investigate racial bias among jurors. (More on that here):…
On the eve of Mitchell's death, I spoke to the jury foreperson. Despite the fact that she was among 11 white jurors (& one Navajo) she remembers thinking it was people "from all walks of life...all kinds of backgrounds. And I thought, Wow, this is really...a jury of your peers.”
Read 6 tweets
28 Aug 20
For the 5th time since last month, I’m outside the FCC Terre Haute training center. The Trump administration plans to kill Keith Dwayne Nelson in just over an hour. Media witnesses have not left yet. But I did see Nelson’s spiritual advisor being escorted to the prison earlier. ImageImage
Media witnesses are kept separate from non-witnessing press at this makeshift media center. But in a briefing earlier we were told the family of Nelson’s victim, 10-year-old Pamela Butler, will address reporters afterward. As far as any stays, BOP says “there are no impediments.”
Eight media witnesses just filed into the two vans, which are pulling away now. A number of these reporters have witnessed all four federal executions before today. A few more witnessed the execution of Lezmond Mitchell on Wednesday.
Read 14 tweets
26 Aug 20
Hello again from Terre Haute, IN, where the Trump administration plans to kill Lezmond Mitchell in just over an hour. Last month, 3 men were executed here in one week. I’m back at the FCC Terre Haute training center, where media witnesses should be leaving for the prison soon. Image
These are the vans that take reporters to the prison grounds, where they go through security before being led to the death chamber. There are some familiar faces here. A couple journalists here witnesses last months’ executions, which turned into punishing all-night ordeals. Image
Vans just pulled out. The execution appears to be set to take place on schedule.
Read 13 tweets

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