Image: Lisa Montgomery
Anonymous  /  AP
Lisa Montgomery is accused of cutting a pregnant woman's baby from her womb with a kitchen knife, resulting in the mother's death.
updated 10/1/2007 1:50:30 PM ET 2007-10-01T17:50:30

A woman accused of strangling a pregnant woman and cutting the baby from her womb watched in court Monday as attorneys began selecting a jury for her trial.

Prosecutors say the suspect, Lisa Montgomery, was nine months into a faked pregnancy and so desperate for a baby that she planned the December 2004 killing of 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant.

Montgomery is charged with kidnapping resulting in death. Prosecutors allege that Montgomery, 39, strangled Stinnett and then used a kitchen knife to cut her baby from her womb.

The baby, Victoria Jo Stinnett, survived.

Jury selection was expected to take three days, with opening arguments starting Thursday. The trial could last up to a month.

U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner told about 80 potential jurors they would be broken into smaller groups for questioning. Fenner also instructed the group not to discuss the case with the media.

Montgomery, who appeared in court and sat between two of her lawyers, pleaded not guilty to the charge in January 2005, and her lawyers have said they plan to use an insanity defense. They say Montgomery suffers from several conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and impulsivity.

A massive search began when Stinnett's mother found her daughter lying in a pool of blood. Police tracked down Montgomery and the baby the next day through e-mails Montgomery had sent Stinnett about buying a dog.

Authorities said they also found a bloody rope used to strangle Stinnett and a knife used in removing the baby from her womb. The rope and knife are among more than 100 pieces of physical evidence prosecutors could present at Montgomery's trial. Prosecutors also have more than 100 possible witnesses.

Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said prosecutors would not discuss the case before the trial. Montgomery's attorney, David L. Owen Jr., did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Claimed she was pregnant, relatives say
Among the exhibits prosecutors might use are Montgomery's medical records from a 1990 tubal ligation. Relatives said she had repeatedly reported she was pregnant since undergoing the procedure after the birth of her fourth child.

When Montgomery, of Melvern, Kan., announced in the summer of 2004 that she again was pregnant, her mother, Judy Shaughnessy, and sisters tried to convince people there was no way she could be carrying a child.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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