Executing Teresa Lewis is Wrong

Barring a legal miracle Teresa Lewis will be killed by the Commonwealth of Virginia on Sept 23. She will be the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly 100 years. One of the few hopes Ms. Lewis has left is a grant of clemency by Gov. Bob McDonnell. I believe Gov. McDonnell should grant clemency.

Teresa Lewis is a bad woman. On Oct, 30, 2002 two hired killers murdered Ms. Lewis’ husband and stepson. The killers were hired by Teresa Lewis for $1,200 and a promise to split the proceeds of the stepson’s life insurance policy. The murders were premeditated, cold blooded and heinous.

Teresa Lewis is guilty. In a plot line which could have come from an episode of Law & Order the murders of Julian and CJ Lewis involved sex, drugs and the suicide of one the hit men. However, in stark contrast to a Law & Order show there has never been much doubt about what happened on that October night in 2002. Teresa Lewis hired two men to slaughter her family. A more detailed account can be found here.

I don’t want McDonnell to offer clemency because Teresa Lewis is a woman. I could care less. I don’t want her life spared because she has an IQ of 70 or because she was addicted to prescription drugs at the time of the murders. I don’t care about the new theory that one of the hit men was the real mastermind and Teresa Lewis was a patsy.

I want to see Teresa Lewis’ sentence converted to life without parole because I don’t trust the criminal justice system. I don’t trust the lawyers, I don’t trust the judges and I don’t trust the police. At least, I distrust trust enough of the lawyers, judges and police to want to stop the Commonwealth from killing people in my name. My personal disgust with the whole system was born during the first OJ trial. However, that was far from the only miscarriage of justice which ought to give everybody pause.

In 1984 Earl Washington was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Virginia. Like Teresa Lewis, Earl Washington’s “crime” was horrible – the rape and murder of a 19 year old mother of three in her home. Like Teresa Lewis, Earl Washington confessed. Like Teresa Lewis, Earl Washington had a very low IQ (in the general range of 69). Like Teresa Lewis today, Earl Washington was within 9 days of being killed by the state. However, Earl Washington did not murder Rebecca Lynn Williams. In fact, he was subsequently eliminated as a suspect in that crime. He was the mentally challenged victim of a rush to judgement which involved a series of abuses by “the system”. Once Earl Washington was exonerated by DNA testing (after 17 years on death row) the real killer was ultimately found. You can read about it here.

The simple and obvious fact is that Virginia has condemned people to die for murders they did not commit. Can there be any doubt that Virginia has also executed people for murders they did not commit?

I don’t want Teresa Lewis to get clemency because she’s not guilty. She almost certainly is guilty. I don’t want Teresa Lewis to get clemency because I am a liberal. I’m not. I want Teresa Lewis to get clemency for the most conservative of reasons – I don’t trust the justice system. And neither should Bob McDonnell.