For Teresa Lewis, Execution Would Be Unjust

There should be consistency in matters of life and death.

By + More

Teresa Lewis is not a very nice person. She has no endearing qualities. Even though her IQ is in question, she will tell you what she did was horribly wrong. She knows and understands this.

Lewis should spend the rest of her life in jail. And by jail, I do not mean watching reality television as some news accounts have described her current situation. I mean sitting in a cell, thinking about the murders of her husband and stepson for which no one argues she is not responsible. Since she is only 41, she could be in jail for decades to contemplate her actions.

But unless Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell commutes her sentence or the U.S. Supreme Court steps in, on Sept. 23 Lewis will become the first woman since 2005 to be executed in the United States, and the first in Virginia since 1912. McDonnell, who is pro-life when it comes to matters of abortion, should be pro-life here.

The facts are pretty clear. Lewis met accomplices at Wal-Mart and convinced them to kill her husband and stepson. For this, they received money, as well as sex from her, and perhaps her underage daughter. The motive was even more money, a $250,000 life insurance policy. After the gunmen left, with her husband wailing, she waited nearly an hour to call 911. Before he died, he told investigators his wife knew who did it.

The co-conspirators who physically shot and killed the men received life in prison. One has since committed suicide. Lewis, who did not pull the trigger, received the death penalty.

There are people who deserve to die for their crimes. One day I envision Osama bin Laden on a post in Central Park, naked sans a bullet proof vest covering most of his vital organs. I figure this natural death would take about a week. I think a similar fate should be in store for Robert Mugabe in Africa. There are convincing arguments to execute those who molest and murder small children. But a woman who was not the shooter should not be put to death by the government.

The pro-life and pro-choice causes are hampered by inconsistencies. Abortion opponents will often say it’s OK to kill a convict because she or he committed a crime but not a baby, who is innocent. On the other hand, abortion-rights supporters say it’s OK to end the pregnancy because it’s the woman’s body, but not the living-independently human being outside the womb, no matter how heinous the crime.

You can’t have it both ways. Taking a life, whether at seven-weeks’ gestation or 41 years later, is taking a life. Period. End of story. There should be exceptions for abortion, such as rape, and the state should be allowed to inflict capital punishment in rare and extraordinary circumstances. But the minimum threshold for such punishment should be the person being executed should at least be the killer. Teresa Lewis is not.

  • Check out this month's best editorial cartoons..
  • Follow the money in Congress.
  • Read more coverage of the political stories of the year.