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IN COLD BLOOD; US state ignores outrage with execution of 'retarded' woman.

Byline: TOM McTAGUE

THE planned execution of a "mentally retarded" woman in the US has provoked outrage across the world.

Teresa Lewis, 41, was scheduled to die this morning by lethal injection in Jarratt, Virginia, for hiring two hitmen to kill her husband and stepson in October 2002.

The first execution of an American woman in five years was set to go ahead, despite evidence she is "borderline mentally retarded" and manipulated by one of the men who shot her husband.

The grandmother lured the two killers to carry out her dirty work with sex, cash and a promised future cut of her husband and son's life-insurance pay out.

While Lewis was sentenced to death, Rodney Fuller and Matthew Shallenberger got life in jail.

Judge Charles Strauss said Lewis deserved a more severe penalty because she was the "head of this serpent". But an Amnesty International spokesman said: "A psychologist tested Teresa Lewis prior to her plea and found she had an IQ of 72, indicating her intellectual function in the borderline mental retardation range. She is diagnosed with Dependent Personality Disorder."

In an EU protest, the ambassador to the US wrote: "We consider the execution of people with mental disorders of all types is contrary to minimum standards of human rights."

The US Supreme Court and Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell refused to budge.

Lewis's planned execution would be the first of a woman in Virginia since 1912.

Texas held the most recent US execution of a woman in 2005.

LAST 5 WOMEN EXECUTED IN U.S.

Sept 14, 2005: Frances Newton, 40, by lethal injection in Texas, for killing her husband, son and baby daughter in 1987 in a bid to collect pounds 65,000 insurance.

October 9, 2002: Prostitute Aileen Wuornos (right), 46, by lethal injection in Florida, for killing seven men who tried to rape her. The film Monster, starring Charlize Theron, is based on her life.

May 10, 2002: Lynda Lyon Block, 54, electrocuted in Alabama, for shooting a policeman outside a Wal-Mart.

Dec 4, 2001: Lois Nadean Smith, 61, by lethal injection in Oklahoma, for killing her son's ex-girlfriend in July 1982. She shot the 21-year-old nine times, claiming she planned to kill her son.

May 1, 2001: Marilyn Plantz, 40, by lethal injection in Oklahoma. Plantz hired her teenage boyfriend and his friend to murder her husband for his pounds 200,000 life insurance.

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GRIM Virginia's death chamber TIME TO DIE Teresa Lewis
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 24, 2010
Words:411
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