KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A woman accused of killing a pregnant woman and cutting out her fetus was a cold, calculated plotter, prosecutors told a jury Monday during closing arguments, while defense attorneys countered that she was delusional.
Lawyers for Lisa Montgomery said she was suffering from pseudocyesis, which causes a woman to falsely believe she is pregnant and exhibit signs of pregnancy.
Montgomery, 39, is on trial for kidnapping resulting in death. Her attorneys are presenting an insanity defense. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty if she is convicted after the trial, now in its third week.
Prosecutor Roseann Ketchmark told jurors that Montgomery was driven by fear because she believed her ex-husband, Carl Boman, would expose that she was lying about being pregnant. Montgomery was cold and calculated and plotted up until the slaying of Bobbie Jo Stinnett on Dec. 16, 2004, in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore, Ketchmark said.
"It's not pseudocyesis or post traumatic stress disorder," Ketchmark said. "And even if you wrap them up and put delusions around them, it's not insanity."
Prosecutors said Stinnett was conscious and trying to defend herself as a kitchen knife was used to crudely cut the baby from her womb.
Mental health experts testifying for the defense said threats to Montgomery's delusion about being pregnant caused her to enter a dreamlike, dissociative state when the slaying took place. Montgomery was arrested the day after the killing; prosecutors say she had spent the morning showing off Stinnett's baby as her own.
"Obviously she's believing she was pregnant or might be, because physical changes were manifesting," defense lawyer John O'Connor said in his closing statement. "There were physical manifestations. That's the key."
Montgomery had undergone a tubal ligation in 1990 after the birth of her fourth child. But soon after, she began claiming to be pregnant again, according to testimony.
Boman had become suspicious of her latest pregnancy claim and threatened to use it against her as he sought custody of two of the couple's four children. A custody hearing had been set for January 2005.
Montgomery's mother and sister also had been telling her husband, Kevin Montgomery, and his parents that it was impossible for Montgomery to carry a child.
As Montgomery's purported Dec. 13, 2004, due date approached, she began conducting searches on the Internet about Stinnett and researching different aspects of child birth. The defense views those efforts as evidence that she believed she was pregnant. The prosecution views them as proof of premeditation.
Besides convicting or acquitting her, jurors could find Montgomery not guilty by reason of insanity. If that is the verdict, she would undergo a mental evaluation and a judge would decide if she will be released or committed to a mental institution.