Supreme Court Steps Aside from Teresa Lewis’ Impending Execution

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A Virginia woman’s hopes for clemency fell at the federal level on Tuesday.

As noted two weeks ago, Teresa Lewis pleaded guilty in May 2003 to seven offenses, including two counts of murder for hire. At the time, a local judge sentenced her to death by lethal injection.

On the brink of that execution, the AFP reports that lawyers’ request for a last-minute reprieve was refused by the nation’s highest court. Lewis will receive the injection on Thursday, making her the first woman executed in Virginia since a 17-year-old girl received an electric-chair sentence in 1912.

In a national context, Lewis is the 12th person to die via a federal edict since the U.S. reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Her lawyers argued that she displayed symptoms of mental retardation. But as the AFP report shows, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had paralleled the Supreme Court’s sentiments, smashing Lewis’ hopes for any type of medical lenience.

“After numerous evaluations, no medical professional has concluded that Teresa Lewis meets the medical or statutory definition of mentally retarded,” McDonnell said in a statement. “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.”

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