Teresa Lewis Appeared Fearful as She Entered Virginia's Death Chamber

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Lewis, case number 09-4, became the 12th woman to be put to death in the United States since 1976, and left behind 60 women remaining on death row nationally, who constitute less than 2 percent of the total death row population. She joined a group of about 40 women who have been executed in the United States in the past 100 years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes the death penalty and tracks its impact.

Those opposed to Lewis' death sentence said the fact that she was a woman should not allow her to be treated differently. What they found troublesome was that Lewis, with an IQ of 72, was borderline mentally retarded and received a more severe sentence than those who pulled the trigger.

"It would be grossly unfair if the one person among those involved who is probably the least danger to society, who is certainly no more guilty than those who carried out the murders and whose disabilities call out for mercy, is the only person scheduled to die for this crime," said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

John Grisham Opposed Execution of Teresa Lewis

John Grisham, the well-known crime novelist, agreed.

"Why," he wrote in an op-ed article for The Washington Post, "did the triggermen get life without parole while Lewis received a sentence of death? Ostensibly, it is because she was the ringleader and thus more culpable. But what could make a killer more culpable than repeatedly shooting a sleeping victim?"

According to court papers, the trial judge who heard Lewis' case said that her sentence was made more difficult by the fact that she had pleaded guilty to her crimes and led the police to the triggermen. But he found she had engaged in the "cold blooded, pitiless slaying of two men, horrible and inhumane." And that she had done it for profit, searching her husband's wallet for money as he lay dying.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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