RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said Friday evening that he will not spare the life of a 41-year-old woman who is set to become the first woman executed in the state in nearly a century.
Teresa Lewis, who conspired with two men to carry out the 2002 murders of her husband and stepson, is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection Thursday in Virginia’s death chamber. Her appeal is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lewis’s supporters have argued that she does not deserve to die because she is borderline mentally retarded and was manipulated by a much smarter conspirator. They say it is unfair that Lewis was sentenced to death while the two men who fired the shots received life sentences.
Prosecutors and police have portrayed Lewis as the scheme’s cold mastermind, who plotted the killings of her husband, Julian Lewis, and his son, Charles “C.J.” Lewis, to collect insurance money. They say she gave her conspirators $1,200 to buy guns, set up an alibi for herself during an earlier, failed attempt to have her husband killed, then left the door to her trailer unlocked so the gunmen could slip in.
McDonnell, a death penalty supporter, said in an interview at the state Capitol late Friday that clemency petitions present some of “the toughest decisions” a governor faces. Over the past few weeks, he said, he has read court transcripts and documents submitted by Lewis’s attorneys, although he has not talked directly with the families involved. He said Lewis’s gender did not enter into his decision.