Virginia Governor Denies Clemency to Woman with Low IQ

On September 17, Governor Robert McDonnell announced that he would not grant clemency to Teresa Lewis, who is scheduled to be executed in Virginia on September 23. Requests for a commutation of her death sentence had come from thousands of individuals, from mental health groups, the European Union and novelist John Grisham. Many had pointed to the fact that two co-defendants in the murders that sent Lewis to death row had received life sentences, even though they actually carried out the killings. Information that became available after Lewis’s trial showed that she has an IQ of 72, near the level of intellectual disability that would have rendered her death sentence unconstitutional. She also suffered from a dependent personality disorder. A letter from one of the co-defendants in prison indicated that he had manipulated Lewis into going along with the murder of her husband. Lewis still has a petition pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and her attorneys have indicated they will ask the governor to reconsider his decision.

(M. Glod & A. Kumar, “McDonnell won’t call off execution,” Washington Post, Sept. 18, 2010; DPIC sources). See Clemency and Women. Supporters for Teresa Lewis have posted a short video about her.