Virginia Set to Execute First Woman in Nearly a Century

Supreme Court denies Teresa Lewis' emergency appeal for delay.

ByABC News
September 21, 2010, 6:52 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2010— -- Teresa Lewis is expected to become the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century on Thursday after the Supreme Court announced it would deny her final appeal.

Before the court ruled, supporters of Lewis, who suffers from borderline mental retardation, posted a recording on the web of her singing the gospel hymn "I Need a Miracle."

As the recording plays, pictures of Lewis and her daughter flash up on the screen.

In an unsigned order this evening, the court denied an emergency application filed by Lewis' lawyers that was seeking a delay in her execution until the high court had the opportunity to review her case.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor indicated they would have granted the application.

The case has garnered national attention. The Associated Press reported today that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compared Lewis' case to that of an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to a death by stoning for adultery.

According to the AP, Ahmadinejad said in a speech to Islamic clerics in New York that while the Western press had coverd the Iranian sentencing of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani "nobody objects to the case of an American woman who is going to be exectued."

Popular novelist and lawyer John Grisham has written an op-ed for the Washington Post criticizing Virginia's implementation of the death penalty in Lewis' case.

"In this case, as in so many capital cases, the imposition of a death sentence had little to do with fairness," Grisham wrote. "Like other death sentences, it depended more upon the assignment of judge and prosecutor, the location of the crime, the quality of the defense counsel, the speed with which a co-defendant struck a deal, the quality of each side's experts and other such factors."

According to court records, in 2002, Lewis participated in a plan with two hitmen to kill her husband and stepson in order to get a life insurance payout.

Lewis stood in another room as Matthew J. Shallenberger and Rodney L. Fuller shot Julian Lewis and his son C.J., at close range.