On Thursday, Sept. 23, the Commonwealth of Virginia has scheduled the execution of Teresa Lewis. Her execution would be a clear breach of justice, and ought to shake our trust in the competency and adequacy of the Commonwealth’s justice system.
On Oct. 30th of 2002, Teresa Lewis’ husband, Julian, and stepson, C.J., were shot and killed in their home by Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller. By his own confession, Shallenberger had romantically manipulated Teresa to reap the benefits of her husband’s life insurance, and enlisted Fuller to help him carry out his plot. Teresa’s crime was to leave the back door unlocked, with knowledge of their plan.
During the trial, Teresa was portrayed as the mastermind behind the killings. She was sentenced to death. Shallenberger and Fuller, the individuals who pulled the triggers, were sentenced to life in prison.
After the trial, Teresa took two IQ tests, one administered by her own expert and the other by an expert of the Commonwealth. She scored at 73 and 70, respectively, on these tests. In other words, she operates mentally at the level of a 12-year-old adolescent.
The murders of Julian and C.J. Lewis were heinous and unconscionable. However, it would be similarly heinous and unconscionable to allow Teresa Lewis to be executed for masterminding crimes that she could not have planned and did not carry out, especially when the admitted mastermind and murderers received a sentence of life in prison.
Please urge Gov. Bob McDonnell to commute Teresa Lewis’ sentence to life in prison. Visit www.saveteresalewis.org to learn more and sign a petition to that effect.
Shelli Poe is a member of the Sojourners United Church of Christ Prison Ministry Social Justice Group.