Showing posts with label Teresa Lewis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teresa Lewis. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Supreme Court Will Not Stop Execution

THE US Supreme Court denied an emergency application yesterday that would have stopped Virginia from executing a woman convicting of two killings, clearing the way for the state to execute a female for the first time in nearly a century.

A Court spokeswoman added that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor voted to stop the execution of Teresa Lewis, who is scheduled to die by legal injection tomorrow.

Lewis, 40, was convicted of taking part in the hired killings of her husband and stepson in October of 2002. Lewis paid two men, one of whom was her lover, and purchased the guns they used in the murders of Julian and Charles "C.J." Lewis. In exchange for the killings, Teresa Lewis planned to split an anticipated $250,000 insurance payment with the shooters, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller.

She admitted her role in 2003, pleading guilty to seven overall criminal counts and two counts of murder for hire.

The Supreme Court was Lewis' last stop on the long legal road leading to her execution. She was also denied clemency last Friday by Virginia's governor, Bob McDonnell.

Lewis' lawyers have long argued that she should not be killed because she has tested as low as 70 on IQ tests and the Supreme Court has ruled that killing mentally handicapped people constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. However, the lower courts have continually denied the argument that Lewis qualifies as severely mentally handicapped.

In denying her clemency, McDonnell said last week that since no medical professional has ever concluded that Lewis was mentally retarded, there was no compelling reason for him to intervene on her behalf.

Shallenberger and Fuller both received life sentences for the the murders.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teresa Lewis To Be Executed In Virginia

RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell said Friday he will not grant clemency to a woman scheduled to be executed next week for the murder of her husband and stepson.

If she is put to death, Teresa Lewis, 41, would be the first woman executed in Virginia since 1912, The Washington Post reported. She is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday.

Lewis pleaded guilty in 2002 to arranging for her lover and another man to kill her husband, Julian Lewis, a Vietnam veteran, and his son, Charles "C.J." Lewis, an Army reservist. Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, who carried out the killings at the Lewis trailer in Danville, received life sentences.

A judge, declaring Lewis the "head of this serpent," gave her the death penalty.

Opponents of Lewis' execution say Shallenberger actually planned the killings, manipulating Lewis, who has an IQ just above the level of mental retardation.

McDonnell, who supports the death penalty, said he read the submissions from Lewis' lawyers.

"I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was imposed by the Circuit Court," McDonnell said.

Lewis 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Only Woman On Virginia Death Row To Die By Lethal Injection


The Virginia Department of Corrections says the only woman on the state's death row has declined to choose the method of her scheduled Sept. 23 execution.

That means lethal injection will be the procedure when 40-year-old Teresa Lewis of Pittsylvania County is put to death for plotting to have her husband and stepson killed in 2002 so she could collect a $250,000 life insurance policy.

State law allows a condemned inmate to select either electrocution or lethal injection. The latter procedure is used if the inmate declines to choose.

Lewis would be the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly 100 years and the first in the U.S. since 2005.

Lewis offered herself and her 16-year-old daughter for sex to two men who committed the killings. She provided money to buy the murder weapons and stood by while they shot her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis Jr., 51, and stepson Charles J. Lewis, 25.

Lewis rummaged through her husband's pockets for money while he lay dying and waited nearly an hour before calling 911.

The gunmen, Rodney Fuller and Matthew Shallenberger, were sentenced to life in prison. Shallenberger committed suicide in prison in 2006.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two Women's Death Row Cases Are Similar

Richmond, Va. -- Marilyn Kay Plantz, executed in 2001 by the state of Oklahoma, persuaded her younger lover and his pal to kill her husband for insurance money and stood by as they brutally did so.

Two years later, Teresa Lewis of Pittsylvania County wound up on Virginia's death row for a strikingly similar crime.

More than 1,200 men have been executed in the U.S., since the death penalty resumed in 1977. If she is put to death as scheduled Sept. 23, Lewis will be just the 12th woman and the first in Virginia in almost a century.

It is a gender gap that largely, if not entirely, can be explained by the relatively few capital crimes committed by women.

The accompanying acts that frequently qualify murders as death-eligible crimes -- such as rape and armed robbery -- overwhelmingly are committed by men.

Mary Atwell, a professor of criminal justice at Radford University and author of "Wretched Sisters: Gender and Capital Punishment," says it is no accident that Lewis, Plantz and their crimes have much in common.

Like many of their male counterparts, females sentenced to death often have histories of substance abuse and mental-health issues.

Unlike men, women usually kill intimates, not strangers. So, too, did Plantz and Lewis.

"There are so many similarities it's almost uncanny," Atwell said. Among other things, she said, "both of these women had borderline mental retardation and yet they were accused of being the mastermind in the case."

Masterminds or not, the murders were savage.

Plantz's husband, James, 33, had $300,000 in life insurance. Court records show that when he returned home early one morning, he was beaten with baseball bats by his wife's lover, William Bryson, and his friend Clinton McKimble, both 18.

Plantz, in her late 20s, was in a bedroom. Her husband still was alive when Bryson and McKimble later set him on fire in his pickup truck.

In Lewis' case, the court records show she persuaded Matthew Shallenberger, with whom she had a sexual relationship, and his friend, Rodney Fuller, to murder her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis,Jr., 51.

Her husband's son from a prior marriage, Charles J. Lewis, a soldier visiting home, had a $250,000 life insurance policy that Teresa Lewis would receive if the two men died.

It took repeated shotgun blasts to kill the father and son in their beds early on the morning of Oct. 30, 2002, while Lewis waited in the kitchen of the family's Pittsylvania trailer. She provided the $1,200 to buy the murder weapons and left the trailer door unlocked so the killers could enter.

Atwell said insurance money often is the motive in cases where women face the death penalty, and it appears to be one of the things that courts consider a vile aspect of such crimes, she said.

"Maybe because it's a sort of betrayal of trust," she said.

In Virginia, before imposing a death sentence, a judge or jury must decide if a killer remains so dangerous that he or she requires execution, or that the crime was so vile that it warrants execution.

Lewis, Shallenberger and Fuller all pleaded guilty, Fuller with the understanding he would receive life in exchange for his cooperation.

Before sentencing Shallenberger on July 11, 2003, Judge Charles Strauss said, "This is a murder for hire which, just the thought of that, sends chills through most of us."

But, Strauss said, "it's not just a business killing. This is a murder that involves so many other things. . . . It's laced with nightmarish violations of trust, respect, love, the bonds of matrimony that existed between Mr. and Mrs. Lewis for a man she vowed to love and cherish.

"There is no question in the court's eyes that she is clearly the head of this serpent."

Strauss said he could not sentence Shallenberger to death if the other shooter received life.

Lewis, said Strauss, "was in a league all her own." The judge said of the crime, "Unfortunately it reminds us of what man is capable of doing, even to ones they're intimate with."

Atwell said that if there is sometimes a reluctance to sentence women to death, "the other side of that issue is that when a woman is perceived by a court -- judge, jury, prosecutors, whoever -- as having really violated what I call 'gender expectations,' that that makes her more worthy of death."

Among other things, Plantz and Lewis both were cheating on their husbands with younger men.

"The vileness standard is subjective," Atwell said. If a murder is particularly vile, she contends, "it could be more of an argument for punishing the actual killer. In these cases, the 'vileness' was connected to the idea of being a 'mastermind' of a merciless killing, and it is doubtful that either woman could be a mastermind."

David N. Grimes, the Pittsylvania commonwealth's attorney, strongly disagrees where Lewis is concerned.

"If there's a hierarchy of evil among the three, I had no question that she was at the top, with Shallenberger fairly close behind," he said. Grimes also sought the death penalty for Shallenberger.

"She manipulated them and manipulated the whole works. She is the one who determined how they would be killed and when they would be killed."

Shallenberger was 22 at the time, Fuller was 19, and neither had much of a criminal record. Lewis was 33 and had been convicted of forging a prescription.

If nothing else, Lewis might have saved her wounded husband's life by promptly reporting the shootings, which were staged to look like a robbery, Grimes said.

"It was the better part of an hour before she even called," he said. "She was calling it in like there was an intruder who had done all this and didn't mention to anybody that the husband was still alive and that he might need medical help," he said.

"We believe he was conscious throughout and horribly wounded and possibly could have been saved. He died from blood loss; he didn't die from any particular organ being damaged."

Atwell says that while Lewis "may have set the events in motion and delayed in calling for help, the real brutality was done by others."

Lewis' lawyers contend that Shallenberger, who committed suicide in prison in 2006, was the mastermind and have a letter he wrote in which he says the crime was his idea.

They argue that Lewis, who has a low IQ and a personality disorder, could not have been the mastermind, and an affidavit from Fuller says Shallenberger was in charge of Lewis.

Her lawyers cite the cases of two Virginia women who committed similar crimes and received life sentences.

According to the evidence, in addition to her relationship with Shallenberger, Lewis also had sex with Fuller, as did Lewis' then-16-year-old daughter.

After her husband was shot but still was alive, Lewis entered the bedroom, retrieved his pants and wallet, and divided the money with Shallenberger and Fuller.

"The women who are executed, in every case, they've been portrayed in the court and in the press usually as not real women -- they were promiscuous, they were bad mothers, they violated the norms that were expected of women. Not only did they kill . . . but they did something that was beyond what a normal woman would do," Atwell said.

"It's not just that she killed her husband, but she violated all these other rules of behavior as well," Atwell said of Lewis.

Grimes, however, sees ample cause for a death sentence for her role in the murders alone.

Lewis' lawyers will not permit her to be interviewed by the news media. She is being held in segregation at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. She has an appeal and request for a stay of execution before the U.S. Supreme Court and a clemency petition before Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Fuller, an inmate at Sussex I State prison, declined to be interviewed.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Only Woman On Death Row Gets Rejected By Federal Appeals Court

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS/AP) Teresa Lewis pleaded guilty to murder in 2002 for masterminding a plot that left her husband and stepson dead. Prosecutors said her intent was to collect the insurance money and inherit her husband's estate.

Shortly after that, Lewis became the first female death row inmate in Virginia in more than 90 years, but her appeals attorneys argued Tuesday that she should be spared the death penalty, because she was too dependent on drugs and other people to mastermind anything.

James Rocap, Lewis' attorney, argued that her trial attorneys should have presented hundreds of pages of medical and pharmaceutical records showing her increased dependency on prescription drugs following her mother's death, and expert testimony showing that a disorder made her especially dependent on men.

"She was not a person who could have come up with this," Rocap said.

Katherine Burnett, a senior assistant attorney general, painted an entirely different picture of Lewis, saying that she bragged to two friends that she was marrying Julian Lewis, Jr. for his money, came up with the idea to kill him and his 25-year-old son, Charles, and offered the two gunmen sex in return for helping her as well as buying the weapons used in the crime.

The gunmen, Rodney Fuller and Matthew Shallenberger, were sentenced to life in prison.

Lewis' daughter, Christie Lynn Bean, who was 16 at the time, served five years because she knew about the plan but remained silent.

David Furrow, Lewis' defense attorney when she pleaded guilty in 2002, said he had expected the judge to sentence Lewis to life in prison.

But at her sentencing, Circuit Court Judge Charles Strauss said that she appeared cold and emotionless throughout the proceedings, that she seemed to have no other motive besides financial gain, that he saw her as a continuing threat to society, and sentenced her to death.