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US appeals court reverses order to delay woman’s execution | Crime News



Decision allows for future hearings to decide the fate of the only woman on US federal death row, Lisa Montgomery.

A United States federal appeals court on Friday reversed an order that vacated the January 11 execution of the only woman on federal death row, but allowed for further hearings that could cause the execution date to be delayed.

The ruling, handed down by a three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, concluded that a lower court judge erred when he vacated Lisa Montgomery’s execution date in an order last week.

US District Court Judge Randolph Moss had ruled that the Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons unlawfully rescheduled Montgomery’s execution for January 12 – and he vacated that decision.

Montgomery had been scheduled to be put to death at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, in December, but Moss delayed the execution after her lawyers contracted COVID-19 after visiting her.

Montgomery’s lawyers had asked him to extend a deadline to file a clemency petition.

Friday’s appeals court ruling allowed a request for a rehearing to be submitted before January 2, according to the court filing hosted on The Death Penalty Information Center’s (DPIC) website.

Robert Dunham, the DPIC’s executive director, said on Twitter that Montgomery’s lawyers intended to seek a rehearing on aspects of the case, which means a January 11 execution may not take place.

Further legal issues must be resolved by courts before the execution can occur, Dunham noted.

That includes Montgomery’s claim that a provision of the Federal Death Penalty Act requires procedures surrounding federal executions follow the law of the state in which the crime took place.

Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in December 2004.

Missouri law requires a 90-day notice of execution and only allows one execution a month, though there are federal executions scheduled on January 14 and 15, Dunham said on Twitter.


Moss, the District Court judge, concluded that under his order the Federal Bureau of Prisons could not even reschedule Montgomery’s execution until at least January 1, but the appeals panel disagreed, The Associated Press reported.

Meaghan VerGow, a lawyer for Montgomery, said her legal team would ask for the full appeals court to review the case and said Montgomery should not be executed on January 12.

In 2004, Montgomery used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife, authorities said. She took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own, prosecutors said.

US President Donald Trump’s administration re-started federal executions after a 17-year hiatus in 2020, putting 10 prisoners to death last year.

There are three federal executions scheduled for January.

President-elect Joe Biden opposes the death penalty and his spokesman, TJ Ducklo, has said he would work to end its use.

But Biden has not said whether he will halt federal executions after he takes office January 20.

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Chinese cities using anal swabs to screen COVID infections | Coronavirus pandemic News



Study shows virus traces in faecal samples could remain detectable for a longer time and provide more accurate test results.

Some Chinese cities are using samples taken from the anus to detect potential COVID-19 infections as China steps up screening to make sure no potential carrier of the new coronavirus is missed ahead of next month’s the Lunar New Year holidays when tens of millions of people usually travel home to their families.

China has been battling new pockets of the disease that have appeared in the north and northeast with strict lockdowns and mass testing in a bid to stamp out the outbreaks.

Justifying the decision to take anal swabs, a city official in Weinan in northern Shaanxi province said a 52-year-old man with symptoms including coughing initially tested negative for COVID-19. He was then tested via an anal swab.

The man, who was confined to a centralised facility for medical observation as a close contact of another COVID-19 patient earlier this month, was then confirmed to have the virus, the official told a news conference.

Anal swabs require inserting a cotton swab three to five centimetres (1.2 to two inches) into the anus and gently rotating it.

In a video posted online by state-backed newspaper Global Times, Zhang Wenhong of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, said that such swabs could be useful in helping minimise the risk of a relapse after recovery.

“There may be traces of the coronavirus detected in the abdominal cavity faeces and intestine,” Zhang was quoted as saying in the report.

Last week, a Beijing city official said that anal swabs were taken from more than 1,000 teachers, staffers and students at a primary school in the city after an infection had been found there. Nose and throat swabs and serum samples were also collected for testing.

Additional tests using anal swabs can pick up infections that other tests miss, as virus traces in faecal samples or anal swabs could remain detectable for a longer time than in samples taken from upper respiratory tract, Dr Li Tongzeng, a respiratory and infectious disease specialist in Beijing city, told state TV last week.

Li added that such samples were only necessarily for key groups such as those under quarantine.

‘Low harm, extreme humiliation’

Stool tests may be more effective than respiratory tests in identifying COVID-19 infections in children and infants since they carry a higher viral load in their stool than adults, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) found in a paper published last year.

Users of China’s Weibo, its Twitter-like social media platform, reacted to the method with a mix of mirth and horror.

“So lucky I returned to China earlier,” one user wrote.

“Low harm, but extreme humiliation,” another said, using a laughing emoticon.

Others who had undergone the procedure chimed in with dark humour.

“I’ve done two anal swabs, every time I did one I had to do a throat swab afterwards – I was so scared the nurse would forget to use a new swab,” one Weibo user joked.

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