Virginia to execute first woman in almost a century

This week the state of Virginia plans to carry out it's first execution of a woman in nearly a century, despite claims she has severe learning difficulties.

Teresa Lewis is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday in the State of Virginia for organising the murder of her husband Julian Lewis and stepson Charles in 2002.

Despite claims that Lewis has severe learning difficulties, the state governor, Robert McDonnell, has said he sees no reason to spare the life of the 41-year-old who planned the killings in cold blood.

McDonnell said that Lewis admitted to committing the ‘heinous crimes’ for which she was convicted, and dismissed claims by her lawyer that she is not mentally fit to be held responsible.

He further added that no medical professional has concluded that she is ‘mentally retarded’ under Virginia law.

Lewis’s last hope is an appeal before the supreme court in which her lawyers will argue that due to her low IQ of 72, which puts her in the borderline mental retardation range, her execution would be unconstitutional.

Lewis organised for her lover, Matthew Shallenberger and another man, Rodney Fuller, to shoot the two men in their beds in order to collect the insurance money.

The men were sentenced to life imprisonment as they were thought to bear less responsibility than Lewis, but Shallenberger has since committed suicide.

Among those who have appealed for her sentence to be commuted is the novelist John Grisham.

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