Saturday, 9 June 2007

Only woman on Virginia death row loses in state Supreme Court

LARRY O'DELL Associated Press Writer

(AP) - RICHMOND, Virginia-The only woman on Virginia's death row failed to convince the state's highest court that her trial lawyer violated her constitutional rights by failing to present evidence that could have spared her the death penalty.
The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday unanimously rejected Teresa Lewis' petition.

Lewis pleaded guilty to hiring two men to kill her husband and stepson in 2002. She was sentenced to death, becoming the first woman on Virginia's death row since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. No woman has been executed in Virginia since 1912.
According to authorities, Lewis plotted the murders of Charles J. Lewis and his son, Julian Clifton Lewis Jr., to collect life insurance money.

Jurors should have been told that her low mental functioning, prescription drug addiction and dependent personality disorder made her incapable of masterminding the scheme, Lewis contended.

The Supreme Court disagreed, noting there was substantial evidence that Lewis, motivated by greed, meticulously planned the slayings.

The lawyer who handled Lewis' appeal, James E. Rocap III, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

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