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The Indiana Law Library Blog

The Death Penalty for Teresa Lewis

Tomorrow night will see the first execution of a woman in the United States in five years.  Teresa Lewis pled guilty to hiring gunmen to kill her husband and stepson in 2002.  Her last petition for a stay of execution was denied on Tuesday, making it very likely that the execution will go on as planned.  The case is a popular subject in the news, with articles from almost all the major news outlets, the New York Times, CNN, ABCNews, and the Washington Post to name a few. 

An interesting article from Slate.com points out that most news stories on the subject (including this one) start by saying that she is the first woman executed in the U.S. in five years, and the first in nearly 100 years in the state of Virginia.  Is that what makes this story interesting?  There are questions about her mental capacity, and about how manipulative the hired gunmen were, but the story might well have quickly lapsed into obscurity if the gender of the subject weren’t unusual.  How much does gender impact capital punishment?  How much should it impact capital punishment?  Let us know what you think.


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