Death Penalty

Virginia Executes Teresa Lewis; Its 1st Woman in 93 Years

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Virginia executed Teresa Lewis on Thursday night -- the first woman the state has executed in 93 years, and the first woman put to death in the United States in five years.

Lewis was convicted of arranging the murders of her husband and a stepson to get a $250,000 insurance payment.

The 41-year-old Lewis died by lethal injection at 9:13 p.m. Relatives of the victims watched through two-way glass, as supporters gathered outside the prison to protest the execution.

The Associated Press writes:

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

Lewis appeared fearful, her jaw clenched, as she was escorted into the death chamber. She glanced tensely around at 14 assembled corrections officials before being bound to a gurney with heavy leather straps.

Then, as the drugs flowed into her body, her feet bobbed but she otherwise remained motionless. A guard lightly tapped her on the shoulder reassuringly as she slipped into death.

Lewis' final words were to her husband's daughter, Kathy Clifton, who was one of the witnesses. "I want Kathy to know that I love her and I'm very sorry." 

More than 7,300 appeals to stop the execution were made to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. But after studying transcripts from the trial, he refused to step in. He said Lewis' gender was not part of the decision-making process.

Just 11 women have been put to death in the U.S. since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.