Court Won't Stop Execution of "Borderline Retarded" Woman


A woman convicted of two hired killings may be the first woman executed in VA in nearly a century after losing an appeal calling attention to her low IQ.

Teresa Lewis has been convicted of two hired killings and now faces a lethal injection tomorrow afternoon in Virginia. Lewis was convicted of providing sex and money to two men so that they would kill her husband and stepson, resulting in a $250,000 insurance payout.

This story has garnered national media attention because Lewis’ IQ of 72 makes her borderline mentally retarded, according to several psychologists, and her lawyer, James E. Rocap, claims that one of the gunmen manipulated Lewis “to dupe her into believing he loved her so that he could achieve his own selfish goals.”

Another twist in this case occurred when Lewis was originally sentenced to death by Judge Charles J. Strauss in 2003, who had never issued a death sentence before. Strauss concluded that Lewis had directed the scheme by leaving a door open for the killers to come in that night. Lewis stood by while her husband was shot and rummaged through his wallet while he lay dying; she called 911 approximately an hour after her husband was shot. Lewis is scheduled to become just the 12th woman out of 1,200 executions since the US Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

This story has even captured the international spotlight; as the Huffington Post article states, “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of launching a ‘heavy propaganda’ campaign against the case of an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery but failing to react with outrage over the imminent execution of Lewis in Virginia.”

But despite the lobbying of supporters, Lewis is still scheduled to receive a lethal injection tomorrow afternoon. Two of the three women on the Supreme Court, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, both voted to stop the execution, but it was not enough for Lewis to win the appeal. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell stated that he would not grant clemency for Lewis’ “heinous crimes” and that “no medical professional has concluded that Teresa Lewis meets the medical or statutory definition of mentally retarded.” Supporters have called for officials to take into consideration the fact that Lewis has expressed deep remorse for her crime and has become a counselor to other women.

What do you think about this case? Should more time be given to evaluate the mental capabilities of Lewis or do you think it is just a ploy to save a woman who knowingly coordinated the murder of her husband and his son?

Around the Web:

Teresa Lewis, Mentally Disabled Woman Slated For Execution In Virginia, Won't Get Help From Supreme Court [Huffington Post]

U.S. Supreme Court rejects the appeal of a woman on Virginia's death row [Washington Post]

High Court Takes a Pass, End is Near for Virginia Woman [Wall Street Journal]

Woman on Death Row Runs Out of Appeals [New York Times]

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