• Today
    July 07

  • 12:32 PM

US woman executed amid outcry

marciadottin, marciadottin@nationnews.com

Added 25 September 2010

execution

JARRATT, Virginia – The state of Virginia carried out a rare execution of a woman, despite international criticism and claims by her attorneys that she was borderline retarded. Teresa Lewis, 41, died by injection on Thursday night, authorities said. The Lewis execution stirred an unusual amount of attention because of her gender, claims she lacked the intelligence to mastermind the killings of which she was convicted, and the post-conviction emergence of defence evidence that one of the triggermen manipulated her. Her fate had drawn appeals from the European Union, an indignant rebuke from Iran and the disgust of thousands of people. Lewis was convicted of arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson over a US$250 000 insurance payment. Lewis enticed two men through sex, cash and a promised cut in an insurance policy to shoot her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis Jr., and his son Charles as they slept in October 2002. Both triggermen were sentenced to life in prison and one committed suicide in 2006. Lewis became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century and the first put to death in the United States in five years. Supporters and relatives of the victims watched her execution at Greensville Correctional Centre in Jarratt. Lewis appeared fearful, her jaw clenched, as she was escorted into the death chamber. She glanced tensely around at 14 assembled corrections officials before being bound to a gurney with heavy leather straps. Moments before her execution, Lewis asked if her husband’s daughter was near. Kathy Clifton, Lewis’ stepdaughter, was in an adjacent witness room blocked from the inmate’s view by a two-way mirror. “I want Kathy to know that I love her and I’m very sorry,” Lewis said. Then, as the drugs flowed into her body, her feet bobbed but she otherwise remained motionless. A guard lightly tapped her on the shoulder reassuringly as she slipped into death. More than 7 300 appeals to stop the execution – the first of a woman in Virginia since 1912 – had been made to the governor in a state second only to Texas in the number of people it executes. Execution in 2005 Texas held the most recent United States execution of a woman in 2005. Out of more than 1 200 people put to death since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, only 11 have been women. Lewis’ supporters said she was a changed woman. They pointed to testimonials from former prison chaplains and inmates that Lewis comforted and inspired other inmates with her Christian faith and the hymns and country gospel tunes she sang at the Fluvanna Correctional Centre for Women where she was long held. Hours before her execution, Lewis met with family, her spiritual adviser and supporters at the Greensville Correctional Centre. Her spiritual adviser, the Rev. Julie Perry, stood sobbing as she later witnessed the execution, clutching a religious book. (AP)

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