In a down-to-the-wire plea, a lawyer for convicted murderer Teresa Lewis begged the governor of Virginia on Monday to stop the state from executing its first woman in nearly 100 years.
Lewis, 41, was found guilty in 2002 of plotting to kill her husband and stepson for life insurance money.
She is slated to die by lethal injection on Thursday, the first woman to be executed in Virginia since 1912.
But Lewis’ lawyer James Rocap says “new evidence” including his client’s limited mental capability should be reason enough for the Gov. to spare her from execution and commute her sentence from death to life in prison.
A psychiatrist who tested Lewis found she had an IQ of 72, ABC News reported, which puts her in the “borderline range” of mental capability.
The score does not, however, place her in the category of mental retardation, which in Virginia, is determined by an IQ score of 70 or below.
Though Gov. Robert McDonnell announced Friday he would not intervene in the case, Rocap urged him to reconsider.
“Respectfully, the decision you announced on Sept. 17, 2010, does not address any of the compelling reasons for clemency that have been advanced, including the significant new evidence that none of the courts have previously considered,” Rocap wrote in a three-page petition obtained by The Washington Post.
“Teresa’s new evidence, which procedural rules prevented her from presenting to any court, is exactly the kind of information a governor should consider in deciding whether to grant clemency in spite of the decisions of the procedurally-bound courts.”
Lewis was found guilty of plotting the murders with two men she met at a local Walmart.
The men, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, broke into her home the night before Halloween in 2002 and shot her husband and stepson to death.
Shallenberger and Fuller were convicted in the killings, but each received life sentences while Lewis alone was given the death penalty.
Though the prosecution has painted Lewis as the mastermind behind the gruesome scheme, Rocap maintains she was just a pawn in Shallenberger and Fuller’s plan.
In addition to Lewis’ IQ score, Rocap also points to Shallenberger’s admission of guilt as “new evidence” that should clear the convicted killer.
Shallenberger, who killed himself in 2006, admitted to pushing Lewis to participate in the scheme, and took full responsibility for the crime.
“Killing Julian and Charles Lewis was entirely my idea,” he wrote before he died. “I needed money, and Teresa was an easy target.”
But Lewis faces an uphill battle, as McDonnell’s statement Friday did not seem to leave room for a last-minute reversal.
“I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was imposed by the Circuit Court,” McDonnell wrote, noting that Lewis had admitted the “heinous crimes,” and that despite “numerous evaluations, no medical professional has concluded that Teresa Lewis meets the medical or statutory definition of mentally retarded.”