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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.


Lewis. (Courtesy Newspros.com)

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.

-- Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  September 16, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  Death Penalty , Maria Glod , Updates , Virginia  
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Next: Wife gets 8 years in slaying of husband

Comments

Send her to hell.

Posted by: blackforestcherry | September 16, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

What nonsense. Teresa Lewis was the one who

- had the motive for the crime (beneficiary to insurance),
- offered herself and her underage daughter for sex with the gunmen as a "down payment" in a Wal-mart parking lot
- spent $1,200 from her joint checking account to buy the firearms used in the crime
- who when told by Shallenberger's accomplice that the stepson wasn't dead from the initial assault, handed him a shotgun and suggested that would get the job done.
- who rifled thru her husbands wallet and waited 45 minutes drinking an ice tea as he lay on the floor slowly bleeding to death from non lethal wounds, before calling 9-1-1
- who let the killers into the house on the night of the crime
- who tried to cash a huge check supposedly signed by her deceased husband right after the killing
- who is playing the "retarded" claim full hilt now and was deemed to be likely "not trying her best" by the court psychitatrist administering her IQ test
- who, in spite of being supposedly retarded, graduated from high school and attended college briefly.
- who freely admits her involvement in this crime and knowingly pleaded guilty to the charges against her.

She is on death row not only for murder for hire, but ordering the murder of two people in a period less than three years.

Gender does not matter here, a black heart with malice can be found in a male or female....

Posted by: vuac | September 16, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you both, blackforestcherry and vuac :(

Posted by: delfranklin4 | September 16, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse


Shoot the juice to her.

Posted by: nuke41 | September 16, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what she did with the insurance company's money?
That would likely not bolster her case...

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | September 16, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Where can I go to sign a petition to stay the execution of Mr. Lewis and his son? Oh, I can't because they were judged and sentenced by Mrs. Lewis and the sentence carried out by her planning and assistance. And now she should have her sentence commuted? At least she won't have to slowly bleed to death.

Posted by: Ex-Fed | September 16, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Here we go. The same old excuses:
1. She has a low IQ. Which apparently didn't hinder her in her life UNTIL she plotted to kill her husband and stepson.

2. She was manipilated by someone else. She had no control when someone else made her plot the executions.

3. Her lawyer now has evidence, not known by the judge, that she was talked into the killings. It's amazing how evidence suddenly comes up as the execution date gets closer.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | September 16, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting how she hadn't made any claim of diminished capacity BEFORE this crime...only after being convicted?
Pure coincidence I'm sure...

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | September 16, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

What a pity Ms. Lewis' lawyer didn't trot out the battered spouse syndrome defense. The wife in the next article who shot her allegedly abusive husband twice in the back and once in the head only got 8 years.

Posted by: Nghbrhdwatch | September 16, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The question is are you really sending this woman to hell, or to the loving, forgiving, tender hands of God to be judged? Since you don't remember what it is like to die, you don't know what fate you are sending her to. At death, is she not judged by the perfect mind that knows her strengths and weaknesses? Isn't she also judged by what she may or may not have endured at the hands of her husband? And God in his infinite wisdom, will know better than you, whether she is slightly missing something in her brain or not. If she is, should he punish her? Would not staying in prison, for life, be a greater punishment? We all think we have all the answers, don't we? Just a thought...

Posted by: Ludybrooks | September 20, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The question is are you really sending this woman to hell, or to the loving, forgiving, tender hands of God to be judged? Since you don't remember what it is like to die, you don't know what fate you are sending her to. At death, is she not judged by the perfect mind that knows her strengths and weaknesses? Isn't she also judged by what she may or may not have endured at the hands of her husband? And God in his infinite wisdom, will know better than you, whether she is slightly missing something in her brain or not. If she is, should he punish her? Would not staying in prison, for life, be a greater punishment? We all think we have all the answers, don't we? Just a thought...

Posted by: Ludybrooks | September 20, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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