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 10/6/2007 12:29:28 AM ET 2007-10-06T04:29:28

The day after a Missouri woman was killed and a baby cut from her womb, the woman accused of killing her was showing off a newborn as her own, several acquaintances testified Friday.

Five women testified Friday that Lisa Montgomery and her husband, Kevin, seemed ecstatic about the new baby girl. The women said Montgomery showed no signs of trauma or being upset, and had answers to all their questions about the birth.

Also Friday, a medical examiner testified that she believed Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, was conscious and trying to defend herself when Montgomery used a kitchen knife to perform a crude Caesarean section on Dec. 16, 2004.

The baby, Victoria Jo Stinnett, who was one month shy of her due date, survived and lives with her father.

All but one of the women testified that they were skeptical when they heard that Montgomery was pregnant in 2004, partly because Montgomery had claimed to be pregnant twice before and did not have a baby. And they said she did not look pregnant, even a week before she was introducing her new baby.

Witness suspected the worst
One of the witnesses, Jennifer Sage, said she had heard on the morning of Dec. 17, 2004, that a woman had been killed in Skidmore and a baby stolen. When Montgomery said she had given birth in Topeka, Kan., Sage said she didn’t hold the tiny baby because of her suspicions.

“It was very odd,” she said. “It was just too weird for me.”

Lisa Green, who believed Montgomery was pregnant, said Montgomery seemed in touch with reality and happy to be home when she called her the night of Dec. 16, 2004, and said she had given birth and was home with the baby.

Green, who worked with Montgomery at a convenience store, also said that Montgomery told her she had been raped by her stepfather as a teenager and that her mother blamed her for trying to take her husband away.

Montgomery, 39, has pleaded guilty by reason of insanity. Her attorneys said Thursday that they would argue that Montgomery suffered from mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by years of abuse in her dysfunctional family.

Jurors were shown several graphic autopsy photos by Coroner Miguel Laboy, who performed the autopsy. Laboy said Stinnett had eight jagged cuts across her abdomen and what he called defensive wounds on her hands, face and elbows.

Coroner: Victim put up a fight
Dr. Mary Case, the St. Louis County medical examiner, said the large amount of blood on the bottom of Stinnett’s feet showed she had her feet flat on the floor — either standing or sitting with her knees raised — when she was cut.

“The evidence to me shows that she regained consciousness while the incision was being made, a struggle ensued and she was strangled again,” Case said.

In other testimony Friday, a man who knew Montgomery and Stinnett because of a shared interest in raising rat terriers testified that he and others in the dog-breeding community distrusted Montgomery, but Stinnett defended her.

“Bobbie Jo was a real sweet spirit. She was kind. She always gave Lisa the benefit of the doubt,” James Dawson of Kansas City said.

The federal trial recessed for a three-day weekend after testimony concluded Friday. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if Montgomery is convicted of kidnapping resulting in death. The trial is expected to take at least three weeks.

If Montgomery is found not guilty by reason of insanity, a judge would decide whether she would be released or committed to a mental institution. If she is sent to a mental institution, she would undergo a mental evaluation, then go before a judge who would determine if she is well enough to be released, or must receive more treatment.

If she’s found to be a threat, she would be held until a judge determines she has made enough progress to be released.

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