Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Execution date set for US woman

Virginia woman Teresa Lewis, who had her husband and her stepson killed, will be executed

A Virginia woman who used sex and money to persuade two men to kill her husband and her stepson to collect a $250,000 (£160,144) life insurance policy is scheduled to be executed within two months - the first US execution of a woman in five years.

A judge set the September 23 execution date for Teresa Lewis, 41, the only woman on Virginia's death row. She would be the first woman executed in the state in nearly a century.

Lewis offered herself and her 16-year-old daughter for sex to two men who committed the killings. She provided money to buy the murder weapons and stood by while they shot her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis Junior, 51, and stepson Charles J Lewis, 25, in 2002.

Lewis rummaged through her husband's pockets for money while he lay dying and waited nearly an hour before calling 911.

The gunmen, Rodney Fuller and Matthew Shallenberger, were sentenced to life in prison. Shallenberger committed suicide in prison in 2006.

Lewis' daughter, Christie Lynn Bean, also served five years because she knew about the plan but remained silent.

Lewis' attorney James Rocap III claims Shallenberger said about two years before his suicide that it was him, not Lewis, who planned the killings and that he was using Lewis to get to her husband's money.

Lewis would be the first woman executed in the US since Frances Newton died by injection in Texas. Newton shot her husband and two young children to death to collect insurance money.

Lewis would also be the first woman executed in Virginia since 1912, when 17-year-old Virginia Christian died in the electric chair for suffocating her employer. Women commit about 12 per cent of the murders in the US annually, and few ever reach the execution chamber.

Out of more than 1,200 executions since the US Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, only 11 women have been executed. Of the more than 3,200 inmates on death row nationwide, 53 are women.

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