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Please urge Virginia’s governor to stop Teresa Lewis’s September 23 execution

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Death penalty: Always unjust

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has refused to stop the execution of Teresa Lewis, a borderline-retarded woman sentenced to die for being the mastermind of a murder-for-hire plot against her husband and his son, even though it was highly unlikely that she had the intellectual capacity to have organized the plot.

Ms. Lewis is scheduled to be executed this Thursday, September 23. Please immediately contact Governor McDonnell urging him to stop Ms. Lewis’s execution. Here is what I wrote to Governor McDonnell:

Dear Governor McDonnell: Having lived before in Arlington, Virginia, and in and around the Capital Beltway since 1986, I know that Virginia touts itself as being a great place to live, visit, work and invest. Detracting seriously from such a goal is Virginia’s leadership by percentage of its population, as an executing state.

Please stop Teresa Lewis’s pending execution that is scheduled for this Thursday, September 23.  The judge sentenced her to death on her guilty plea, finding that she was the mastermind of the gruesome murder of Julian Lewis and Charles Lewis, even though her borderline mental retardation made that highly unlikely.

As a criminal defense lawyer who regularly defends in Virginia, I understand all too well the arguments by governors refusing to stop executions about the importance of finality in the judicial system. However, your denial of clemency should be reversed, to avert this execution being a final and unjust blow not only to Teresa Lewis, but to justice and the Constitution.


Jonathan L. Katz


Silver Spring, Maryland

The United States Supreme Court prohibits executing mentally retarded people. Atkins Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002).  Unfortunately, Ms. Lewis came thinly close to being found to be mentally retarded, but not close enough.

The Virginia Supreme Court’s denial of relief to Ms. Lewis — including details of the gruesome murders of Julian Lewis and Charles Lewis —  is here.