US & Canada

First woman in five years due to be executed in US

Teresa Lewis
Image caption Teresa Lewis was convicted of plotting to kill her husband and stepson

Authorities in the US state of Virginia are preparing to execute a woman, the first to face the death penalty in the US for five years.

Teresa Lewis conspired with two men to kill her husband and stepson in 2002, leaving a door unlocked so the gunmen could enter the family home.

Virginia's governor has said he will not commute the death penalty, despite claims Lewis, who pleaded guilty, has learning disabilities.

The two gunmen received life sentences.

Lewis - due to die by lethal injection on Thursday - will be the first woman executed in Virginia since 1912.

Her lawyers filed a petition for executive clemency on 25 August 2010.

Declining to commute the sentence, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell said: "Lewis does not deny that she committed these heinous crimes.

"Numerous psychiatrists and psychologists have analysed Lewis, both before and after her sentencing.

"After numerous evaluations, no medical professional has concluded that Teresa Lewis meets the medical or statutory definition of mentally retarded."

Lewis's husband, Julian Lewis, and stepson, Charles Lewis, were killed with shotgun blasts by Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller at their home in Danville, Virginia.

Fuller reportedly arranged a deal with prosecutors and received a life sentence.

Shallenberger - who was Lewis's lover - was also sentenced to life. Lewis's lawyers argue that he manipulated her.

Lewis was motivated by inheriting her husband's assets and her stepson's life insurance. She paid for the weapons and ammunition used in the murders.

Prosecutors said Lewis's husband was still alive after the shootings and that she waited 45 minutes before ringing police.

"I'm a little nervous... I'm also scared. But I am peaceful because I've got Jesus with me," Lewis said in an interview with CNN hours before her appeal for clemency was denied.