Virginia To Execute First Woman In A Century

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Virginia is preparing to execute its first woman in almost a century, despite claims that she is mentally ill.

After having her final request for clemency rejected, Teresa Lewis, 41, who is convicted of hiring hit men to murder her husband and stepson, is due to be executed by lethal injection on Thursday.

Lewis and her lawyers had formally asked Robert McDonnell, the state governor, to spare her life, protesting she has a low IQ and was manipulated into committing the crimes by a dominant male co-conspirator.

“I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was imposed by the circuit court,” McDonnell revealed in a statement to the local press. “Accordingly, I decline to intervene and have notified the appropriate counsel and family of my decision.”

Lewis’s last hope of avoiding the death penalty is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her lawyers will argue that, the grounds for the execution are unconstitutional because of the defendant’s low IQ.

Julian Lewis and his son Charles were gunned down by two men, Rodney Fuller and Matthew Shallenberger, in 2002. McDonnell said 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. The governor stated that no medical professional has found Teresa Lewis “mentally retarded” under Virginia law.

TIME’s Katy Steinmetz and Alex Altman looked into the mental-health allegations before the governor’s ruling.

Some medical experts also determined that Lewis suffered from a dependent-personality disorder, which left her particularly susceptible to manipulation by men. Rocap, who has represented Lewis since 2004, argues that Lewis was exploited by Shallenberger, who tested as considerably more intelligent and penned a 2003 letter to an associate stating that he had struck up an affair with Lewis to “get her to ‘fall in love’ with me so she would give me the insurance money.”