The first woman since 1912 to be sentenced to death in the state of Virginia, was executed yesterday for the murder of her husband and stepson. In 2002, 41-year-old Teresa Lewis persuaded hit men using sex and money to kill her two family members in order to get her hands on her husbands life insurance. The Grandma, who has learning difficulties, pleaded guilty to the murders even though her legal team argued that she was incapable of planning and pursuing a crime of this nature.
This case of execution is not only rare because it was a woman but also unusual because of the circumstances in which the murders took place, including the low IQ of Lewis which had been at the forefront of the defence case. Lewis bought the guns and ammunition for the hit men and also left the door open when the attack took place.
The two hit men, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller both received life sentences for shooting Julian, 51, and Charles Lewis, 25. Lewis’ defence argued that she did not have the intelligence to round up and persuade two men to carry out the murders. The legal team behind Lewis accused Shallenberger – who killed himself in prison in 2006 – of being the brains behind the crime and of manipulating Lewis, whom he had a sexual relationship with. Her lawyer James E. Rocap III said, “…it was grossly unfair to impose the death sentence on her while Shallenberger and Fuller received life sentences”.
Lewis has an IQ of 72 and a number of medical assessments had been carried out on her, none of which showed she was mentally retarded, although she has been diagnosed with Dependent Personality Disorder. The U.S. Supreme Court and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell chose not to delay actions in the execution despite thousands of attempts to appeal which had been sent to the Governor. However, in the end, even her legal team admitted that all her appeals had been exhausted.
Teresa Lewis was executed by lethal injection at 21.13 last night while relatives of the victims watched at Greensville Correctional Center in Virginia – one of which was her step daughter who watched from a seperate room. This is the first execution of a woman in Virginia in over 100 years and it has caused uproar around the world. Campaigners had argued that she was “borderline mentally retarded” and therefore it was unethical to go through with the execution.
Teresa Lewis asked for fried chicken breasts and sweet peas with butter for her last meal, with a slice of either apple pie or german cake and a dr pepper to wash it down.