Another attempt to stop Va. execution
Lawyers for a 41-year-old woman set to be executed this week asked Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell on Monday to reconsider his decision Friday not to intervene in her case.
Teresa Lewis, who conspired with two men to carry out the 2002 murders of her husband and stepson, is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection Thursday in Virginia's death chamber. Her appeal is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a three-page letter dated Monday, lawyer James Rocap asks McDonnell (R) to commute Lewis's sentence from death to life without parole.
"Respectfully, the decision you announced on September 17, 2010 does not address any of the compelling reasons for clemency that have been advanced, including the significant new evidence that none of the courts have previously considered,'' he wrote. "Teresa's new evidence, which procedural rules prevented her from presenting to any court, is exactly the kind of information a governor should consider in deciding whether to grant clemency in spite of the decisions of the procedurally-bound courts."
Lewis's supporters argue that she does not deserve to die because she is borderline mentally retarded and was manipulated by a much smarter conspirator. They say it is unfair that Lewis was sentenced to death while the two men who fired the shots received life sentences.
Prosecutors and police have portrayed Lewis as the scheme's cold mastermind, who plotted the killings of her husband, Julian Lewis, and his son, Charles "C.J." Lewis, to collect insurance money. They say she gave her conspirators $1,200 to buy guns, set up an alibi for herself during an earlier, failed attempt to have her husband killed, then left the door to her trailer unlocked so the gunmen could slip in.
The new evidence cited in the letter includes admissions from one of the triggermen that he was the mastermind and information about Lewis's possible mental capacity.
In a statement announcing the decision late Friday, McDonnell said Lewis had admitted the "heinous crimes," and he noted that no medical professional has concluded that she is mentally retarded under Virginia law. "I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was imposed by the Circuit Court," he wrote.
Lewis is set to be the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century. Since July, about 4,000 calls or emails have come into the governor's office about the Lewis case.
McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson declined to comment.
-- Anita Kumar
Washington Post Editors
| September 20, 2010; 2:33 PM ET
Categories: Death Penalty, Updates, Virginia
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