In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla, Stanton himself made the announcement of the unusual decision. He declined to comment after the hearing, but a spokesman said he believes the last federal defendant to be executed was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Montgomery is charged with shooting and killing Paula Robinson and Judy Spray while robbing a Henning post office with his son in October 2010. His son was later killed in a shootout with law enforcement. Montgomery was in court Friday, slumped in a chair next to his attorney, but did not say anything. Family members of the victims were also in the courtroom but declined to speak to reporters.
Montgomery's attorney, Michael Scholl, said seeking the death penalty is unusual but not unprecedented in his experience in federal cases in Memphis.
"This prevents a quick resolution of this case," he said, predicting there will be "litigation for years at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayers."
He said the alternative would be for the government to seek life without parole.
Scholl said he will attempt to show that Montgomery has a mental disability and an IQ below 65. Montgomery confessed to the post office shootings after being arrested.
Resolution of various motions in the case is expected to take several months.