Virginia to execute “mentally ill” woman, Teresa Lewis

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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell(R) refused to grant a stay of execution in the case of Teresa Lewis, whose IQ is between 70 and 73.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the execution of mentally retarded people–generally individuals with an IQ of less than 70–is unconstitutional.

Lewis was charged and convicted of masterminding the murder of her husband and stepson in concert with two others–Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller–so that she could collect her husband’s $250,000 life insurance policy.

Governor McDonnell defended his confirmation of Lewis’ execution:

having carefully reviewed the petition for clemency, the judicial opinions in this case, and other relevant materials, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was imposed by the Circuit Court and affirmed by all reviewing courts.

In other words, McDonnell, and the courts as well, feel safe in their decision because Lewis is only “borderline mentally retarded”.

Two additional pieces of evidence, when considered in conjunction with the murder, cast a dark hue over this execution:

Shallenberger wrote a letter to another inmate in 2003 indicating that he had deliberately manipulated Lewis into going along with the murder plan. Moreover, three expert psychologists diagnosed Lewis with “dependent personality disorder”, which in effect means it is difficult for her to carry out any task without the aid of another.

Thus, Shallenberger admitted to manipulating Lewis and there is compelling medical evidence that Lewis could not have crafted out a murder of a relatively complex nature.

Lewis plans on appealing the execution to the U.S. Supreme Court. Given that the Supreme Court recently held(2002) “mentally-retarded” individuals could not be executed, there is no manner in which to predict how the Court will decide upon the “borderline” case which involves the additional factor of a “dependent personality disorder”.

Aware of the novelty of this case, as well as the vague standard set in 2002 for what is “mentally retarded”, ¬†Governor McDonnell should have erred on the side of caution and stayed the execution. Rather than do that, however, McDonnell decided how he did and may end up extinguishing a life in violation of basic principles of fairness set out by our constitution.

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One Response to “Virginia to execute “mentally ill” woman, Teresa Lewis”

  1. Iran obscures truth to justify stoning execution « El Gringo Gigante Says:

    […] El Gringo Gigante A unique perspective on life and politics « Virginia to execute “mentally ill” woman, Teresa Lewis […]

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