Just this past week, Teresa Lewis was executed in the state of Virginia – the first woman to be executed in that state since 1912. She pleaded guilty in 2003 to capital murder for hire in the killing of her husband, Julian, and his 25-year old son, Charles. Charles had a $250,000 insurance which named his father as beneficiary. Lewis offered herself and her 16-year old daughter for sex to Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, the gunmen. While her husband and stepson slept, she unlocked the back door to their home and Shallenberger and Fuller entered and shot both Charles and Julian. Charles died immediately. Julian was still alive by the time police arrived (after Lewis waited 45 minutes to call them). Shallenberger and Fuller were given life sentences, presumably after ratting Lewis out. The judge who gave Lewis the death penalty said she was the “head of the serpent” in the plot.
As usual with death penalty cases, “new evidence” came to light, this time in a letter Shellenberger wrote in 2006, before he killed himself, in which he said it was all his idea. Critics claimed Lewis’s I.Q. of 70 made her mentally retarded and executing her would be unconstitutional.
Governor Bob MacDonnell rejected her petition for clemency and she was executed by lethal injection.
Earlier in the week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to embarrass the United States by bringing up Lewis’s imminent execution in his PBS interview by calling the U.S. hypocritical in its outcry against the impending death sentence of stoning meted out to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in his country.
Human Rights Watch says Ashtiani, 43 and a mother of two, was first convicted in May 2006 of having an “illicit relationship” with two men following the death of her husband and was sentenced by a court to 99 lashes. Later that year, she was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession which she claims was made under duress. You think that would be the end of the story, but no.
Ashtiani’s case is incredibly convoluted, so much so, that, according to reports, she has now been convicted of manslaughter and murder. According to the Los Angeles Times, that was “fresh news.” I invite anyone to read about her story and figure it all out.
I limit my musings to political, social and cultural life in America but when I see Ahmadinejad coming to my country and hearing him criticize the best legal system in the world – our’s – I have to say something. His comparison of the two cases is, to say the least, ridiculous.
On the one hand, Lewis confessed she conspired to murder two people and was convicted and given every opportunity for numerous appeals and petitions afforded by our legal system. She was sentenced to a painless death by lethal injection.
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