Showing posts with label theresa lewis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theresa lewis. Show all posts

Friday, September 24, 2010

Teresa Lewis Is Executed In Virginia

JARRATT — Teresa Lewis died by injection tonight for the murders of her husband and stepson in Pittsylvania County, the first execution of a woman in Virginia since 1912.

Lewis, 41, was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m., Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, announced outside the prison.

Minutes earlier, given a chance to make a last statement, Lewis said: "I just want Kathy to know I love you and I'm very sorry."

The murders left Lewis' stepdaughter, Kathy Clifton, the only surviving member of her family.
About 8:50 p.m., Lewis' lawyer, James E. Rocap III, and her spiritual advise , the Rev. Julir Perry, the chaplain at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, entered the witness room after visiting with Lewis.

At 8:55 p.m., after the death warrant was read to Lewis by Chief Warden George M. Hinkle, the door to the execution chamber opened and Lewis, wearing blue prison-issued pants and shirt, was led inside by corrections officers holding each arm.

Lewis appeared serious and fearful. She looked around the room as she was escorted to the gurney, where she lay down.

Her torso and limbs were quickly strapped down by five execution team members, and at 8:58 p.m. a blue curtain was drawn, blocking the view from the witness room as intravenous lines used to administer the drugs were inserted.

At 9:09 p.m., the curtain opened and Lewis was asked whether she had a last statement. She asked if "Kathy" was present, presumably referring to Kathy Clifton, the daughter and sister of the two murdered men.

Clifton had said earlier that she and her husband would attend the execution. Family witnesses view from a private room; corrections officials said they did not respond to Lewis' question.

The first of three chemicals then began flowing. Lewis' left foot had been moving as if she were tapping it, but the movement quickly stopped. She was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m. and the curtains were redrawn, again blocking the view.

Outside the prison, about a dozen people stood in protest. They were outnumbered by about three dozen members of the media, including reporters from Great Britain and Italy.

Lou Hart, who said he was a Quaker from Charlottesville, said it was his first time to stand outside the prison. "I'm not against every death penalty, but I am against most," he said. "This one bothered a lot of people because of the harshness of the penalty."

Longtime death-penalty foe Annette Blankenship of Colonial Heights said she and Lewis had been corresponding for the past several years.
"I have two sons. And seeing this, I really feel bad — when I saw her son, it just tore me up," she said. Lewis has a grown son and daughter.

After the execution, Lewis attorney Jim Roach said: "Tonight the machinery of death in Virginia extinguished the childlike and loving spirit of Teresa Lewis."

He said she met with both of her children yesterday and wrote letters to both of them.

The execution was just the 12th of a woman — compared with more than 1,200 for men — since the death penalty resumed in the United States in 1977. The rare event drew attention, and criticism, from across the nation and abroad.

Lewis was sentenced to death in 2003 for the Oct. 30, 2002, murder-for-hire slayings of her husband and stepson. Using sex and promises of money, she persuaded two men to kill for her in an effort to gain $250,000 in life insurance.

Julian Lewis, 51, and C.J. Lewis, 25, were hit with multiple shotgun blasts in their beds while Teresa Lewis stood by in the kitchen of the family trailer early that morning. As her husband was dying, she took his wallet, split the money inside it with the gunmen, and then waited 45 minutes to call for help.

Lewis was the secondary beneficiary of her stepson's life insurance policy, which meant both men had to die for her to collect. The shooters, Matthew Shallenberger, who was her lover, and Rodney Fuller, each were sentenced to life. The evidence led the judge to deem Lewis "the head of this snake," and he sentenced her to death.

The European Union's delegation to the U.S., concerned about Lewis' mental capacity, sent a letter this month to Gov. Bob McDonnell asking that he commute the sentence to life. Iranian officials, stung by criticism over a woman convicted of adultery there and sentenced to death by stoning, blasted the West this week for hypocrisy.

The governor's office had no comment on either development.

Those asking that her life be spared included Amnesty International, best-selling author John Grisham, religious and anti-death-penalty groups, and thousands of people who signed petitions asking McDonnell to commute the death sentence.

McDonnell twice turned down clemency pleas, most recently on Monday. He said that after a careful review he found no compelling reason to set aside the sentence and noted that no professional evaluation of Lewis ever found she met the medical or legal definition of mental retardation.

Her lawyers contended that her low IQ, a personality disorder and addiction to pain medication made it impossible for her to have been the mastermind of the crime.

Lewis' lawyers and supporters also argued that she should have received the same sentence as the shooters. They said that Lewis, the mother of two who last year became a grandmother, had no prior record of violence and had been an exemplary inmate since her conviction.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down her appeal and request for a stay of execution.

Lewis spent part of her last day visiting with family, her spiritual adviser and her lawyers, Traylor said.

In an interview Monday, Lewis said she hoped to have a contact visit with her son and daughter on her last day. She also has a 14-month-old grandson by her daughter.