When is it OK to play God? Who decides who dies and who gets to live the rest of their lives in prison? Who gets to choose what crimes are deemed worthy of execution?
These are questions that are on many people’s minds after a woman was executed last month for her role in conspiring and hiring two men to kill her husband and stepson for a $250,000 insurance policy.
Teresa Lewis, 41, was the first woman to die by lethal injection in Virginia since 1912. But did she deserve to die? There are many holes in the theory that she deserved to die for her crimes.
Let’s forget for a minute that the men she hired to pull the triggers got life in prison instead of the death penalty or that she had the IQ of an adolescent child. But after all these years, why did Virginia decide to executer Lewis?
Because I haven’t had the opportunity to interview anyone involved with the execution, I may never know that. The research I have done for the story doesn’t tell me much. But I’m sure it’s a question that’s been on everyone’s mind.
Did Lewis even know that what she was doing was wrong? It was argued during her defense that she didn’t have the mental capacity to fully comprehend the consequences of her actions.
And why is it okay for the men she hired to kill her husband and step-son to be sentenced to life in prison? (One of the hired killers committed suicide while he was in prison.) Why did they get life and she got death, even though they are the ones who actually did the killing?
Who gets to play God in these circumstances? A power-drunk judge who decides he will show his authority by deciding it’s a good day for someone to die? This is one of those sticky situations where people have a hard time explaining why they do the things they do.
I believe in the death penalty, if it fits the crime. But I don’t think it did in this case. The defense showed that she could have been rehabilitated; isn’t that one of the criteria? If it’s not, it should be.
Each of the states within the United States has their own stand on capital punishment, but I believe that it should be a federal issue. For one thing, justice could be better served if every state had the death penalty. There would be less crime, (especially of criminals knew the consequences) and the money saved from incarceration would be astronomical. But it would also allow cases like Lewis’s to be reviewed and re-reviewed.
I don’t think she should have died if she didn’t pull the trigger, especially if she didn’t really understand the crime.