They met, according to a story on Huffington Post, at a Walmart in Danville. And from that chance encounter spun two hired killings in 2002 and three murder convictions in 2003. One of the latter was judged upon Teresa Lewis, now 4o, the wife and stepmother of the victims.
She’s the one who got death row (plus 53 years), after pleading guilty. The two men she hired got life.
Lewis is the only woman on Virginia’s death row; her execution is slated for Sept. 23. That will happen unless the U.S. Supreme Court issues a stay or Gov. Bob McDonnell grants clemency.
If the execution goes through Lewis will be the first Virginia woman executed by the state since 1912.
From Huffington Post:
Lewis, 40, pleaded guilty to hiring two men, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, to murder her husband and stepson so that she could collect a $350,000 life insurance policy. Both triggermen were handed life sentences, but Judge Charles Strauss gave Lewis the death penalty, reasoning that she was “clearly the head of this serpent.”
The article goes on to note that Lewis has twice tested in the 70-73 range for IQ; anything below 70 is considered mentally retarded.
And an account in the Richmond Times-Dispatch suggests that she lacks the ability to plan anything much farther ahead than tying her shoes.
Casting even further doubt on Lewis’ mental function is a 2003 letter Shallenberger (who committed suicide in 2006) wrote to a fellow inmate. In it he said he’d manipulated Lewis into arranging the murder so that he could collect her husband’s life insurance money and use it to finance his drug-dealing business, Huffington Post notes.
“I met Teresa at the Walmart in Danville, VA. From the moment I met her I knew she was someone who could be easily manipulated,” Shallenberger wrote. “Killing Julian and Charles Lewis was entirely my idea. I needed money, and Teresa was an easy target.”
Still, the Virginia Supreme Court, U.S. District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals have upheld the sentence.
Mercy, or the gurney?
What do you think, folks?