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Posted at 10:16 PM ET, 09/26/2010

What Virginia and Teresa Lewis have in common

By washingtonpost.com editors

The Rev. Paul Wee
Alexandria

The execution of Teresa Lewis [“Va. woman executed for slayings in 2002,” front page, Sept. 24] tells us not so much about crime and punishment in Virginia but about whether we as a people feel that we have a right to decide that some lives are without value, incapable of redemption.

The question is not one of guilt or innocence; she confessed to the crime early on. Nor is there any question that crime deserves punishment under the law. Nor is the fact that she was a woman an issue, although the two men who committed the murders were given life sentences.

Nor is the point that Ms. Lewis bordered on mental incompetence an issue, though this fact might have given Virginia cause to weigh the appropriateness of the punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The fundamental question is whether any life can be deemed of no value whatsoever, capable of being legitimately snuffed out.

That was the crime of Teresa Lewis. Let us not make it our own.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | September 26, 2010; 10:16 PM ET
Categories:  Virginia, crime  
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Comments

Killers have no value to their life. They forfeit it upon killing an innocent person. The state kills to protect and administer punishment as just rewards for unspeakable acts. Lewis like Paul Powell, Darick walker, and John Allen Muhammed before her are all deserving of Death. VA goes it right - there are only 11 people now on death row and the oldest case is from mid 2000. Thats a good track record - Just look at the dsyfunctional system in CA.

Posted by: espnfan | September 27, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

The American way: you don't like it, kill it.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 27, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Getting the death penalty depends on where you live. If your state is governed by a person who claims he follows God's Word to the letter, usually means you will be put to death. Texas is a good example of righteous people doing God's Work in putting murderers to death.
Lewis's case is egregious in that the actual murderers had no reason to murder her husband and stepson, but they did it for sport. So why aren't they being put to death?
It all depends on where you live, who your judge was, who your governor is, and who you know. The death penalty is so grossly unfair in the way it is implemented and carried out, that some day a truly righteous person will do the right thing. Just like celebrities can get caught with drugs and get off with probation, but some young street kid goes to jail. No Daddy to bail him out or pay for private rehab.
I've got no bone with the death penalty, but right now there are vicious, vile, evil, brutal murderers lounging around in jail and we are paying to keep them alive.
I hope God Almighty takes this issue out of the hands of idiots and self-righteous fools and shows us all how to manage the death penalty. Either use it on all vicious murderers or get rid of it. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | September 28, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

The Oxford English Dictionary defines murder as any action, regarded as morally wicked, which causes the destruction of human life whether it is “legal” or not. In 2002 Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller shot and killed Julian Lewis and his son Charles in Virginia with the connivance of the victim’s wife Teresa. The pair were jailed for life but Teresa was executed in spite of Shallenberger’s later admission that he manipulated her and masterminded the murders for the insurance. The court psychologist estimated her IQ at 70 but it was clear to any neutral observer that she was retarded and mentally closer to a gibbon than the average citizen. I now understand the fury engendered in America when Kenny MacAskill complied with the pleas from Nelson Mandela and the Scottish churches to free the dying Megrahi.

Posted by: jucameron43 | September 28, 2010 4:13 AM | Report abuse

I started following this case about a week ago, and one thing that really strucked me, even though nobody's life should be taken by any individual,organization or even judicial system, is the fact that there had been quite a few inmates that had been executed, and later on "exonerated" after the forensics and DNA proved them innocent. Now, Americans are extremely hypocrites who will decide not to raise issues on certain topics but would rather cry out loud to some whenever they feel that some certain gender or set of people are being treated unfairly. Yes, it is a shame that a country of this magnitude still embraces capital punishments in some of its states. We should all start to think about the way we look at ourselves. We are a laughing stock to countries around the world because of our biased, unbelievable, outrageous, and despicable double standards on majority of issues. If a rape and killing had occurred that led to an execution, i rarely see comments from people globally. Why not treat this case as such or is it because Teresa Lewis was a woman with smaller IQ? It is very imperative to realize that two lives were taken in such a horrific way that most American were just about to treat it has the norm in the society. A society that that some set of people can get away with crimes OR when verdicts are issued out to this set of people against them, the whole society reacts in an unbelievable fashion. Americans, please wake up!

Posted by: femmy321 | September 28, 2010 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Theresa Lewis had a life of inestimable value. Her husband and stepchildren loved and trusted her to the point that her stepson even named her a beneficiary in his will. She was evidently intelligent enough to plan the hits and to remember to unlock the door so that the hit men could come in.

She forfeited all that love and trust when she betrayed the defenseless victims in order to gratify her greed and lust. Three people deserved the death penalty, but only one got it. Let her sentence be a warning to those who are so foolish as to think they can get away with such crimes.

The Reverend Wee would do well to meditate on the inestimable value of the lives of the babies whom our society approves of ending before they are born. They must not be worth much. He could even preach on it.

Posted by: janice10 | September 28, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

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