Effort to save condemned Va. woman
Lawyers for convicted murderer Teresa Lewis, who is set to be executed by lethal injection next week, sent a petition to Virginia Gov. Robert M. McDonnell (R) with the electronic signatures of more than 5,500 people who ask that her life be spared.
Lewis's supporters say she is borderline mentally retarded and should not be put to death for her role in the 2002 slayings of her husband and stepson. Lewis helped plan the crimes. The two gunmen who fired the deadly shots were sentenced to life in prison.
The Arc of Virginia, which advocates for people with mental disabilities, also sent a letter to McDonnell. "The Arc of Virginia joins several national and state organizations in urging you to exercise your power of clemency and commute her sentence to life in prison without parole," organization president Howard Cullum wrote. "At a minimum, however, the execution should not go forward without a comprehensive professional assessment of Ms. Lewis's intellectual functioning."
Lewis's husband, Julian Lewis, and his son, Charles "C.J" Lewis were gunned down early Oct. 30, 2002. Prosecutors said Teresa Lewis plotted the crime for the insurance money. The shooters, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller had met Lewis at a Wal-Mart a few weeks earlier.
Lewis's supporters say Shallenberger, who had a much higher IQ, was the true mastermind and used Lewis.
"This is a tragic case for all concerned," said Lewis's lawyer, James Rocap, "but Teresa should not become its last victim. The governor has evidence that was not known by the judge who sentencedTeresa, showing that she was led into this and manipulated by one of the actual murderers, Matthew Shallenberger."
Lewis is scheduled to be executed Sept. 23.
The petition, which asks that Lewis's sentence be commuted to life without parole, was collected online. Several organizations, including the Virginia Catholic Conference, Amnesty International and the Baptist General Association of Virginia also have urged people to support clemency, Lewis's lawyers said.
September 16, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
Categories: Death Penalty , Maria Glod , Updates , Virginia
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