Teresa Lewis, Virginia Woman With Borderline Mental Retardation Faces Execution

Lewis was found to have an IQ of 72. In Virginia, 70 is the number used to determine mental retardation, among other factors.

Elisabeth Semel , Director of the Death Penalty Clinic at Berkley Law, questions the use of absolute numbers to determine someone's level of mental retardation. "So many factors can contribute to the reliability or unreliability of a numerical score. " she said. "If you have this absolute as a number you can't take into account how severely intellectually disabled someone might be."

But victim's rights advocate Kent S. Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said, "Simply being on the slow end of the intellectual scale, but not retarded is not by itself, a compelling reason to overturn the death penalty."

Lewis' appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is further complicated by Virginia law that sets execution dates before the Supreme Court decides whether it will take a case.

Lewis is scheduled to die on September 23rd, and under normal circumstances the high court would only consider her case on September 27th. Rocap has filed an emergency application asking the Court to suspend her execution until the court can decide whether to take the case.

There are currently 61 women on death row. Only 12 have been put to death since 1976.

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