Using critical thinking skills Teresa Lewis apparently doesn’t possess, you cannot reason out her punishment. McDonnell and those who judge Technicolor® events through a black and white lens rationalize killing her without further inquiry. John Grisham put forth the intellectual argument against taking her life. This is a bit more.
The governor has evidence that was not known by the judge who sentenced Teresa, according to James Rocap, Lewis’s lawyer, showing that she was manipulated and involved by Matthew Shallenberger, one of the triggermen. Unfortunately, it is apparent that McDonnell confuses concepts and principles with actual execution. In this case, that will be tragic. Here McDonnell blends being “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights” with being endowed with equal faculty. Then he abets his intellectual indolence by relying on a legalistic interpretation of mental deficiency. This sloth will indeed be a deadly sin.
“Numerous psychiatrists and psychologists have analyzed 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.” – McDonnell
True, she doesn’t meet the “medical or statutory definition of mentally retarded;” by a hair on a scale that is by no means etched in stone. But it gives Taliban Bob something to cling to while he demonstrates his adherence to hard line principle by ending the life of a capital criminal with the muddled mind of a child.
A brazen crime for certain. Prosecutors and police portray Lewis as a cold mastermind who plotted the killings of her husband, Julian Lewis, and his son, for insurance money. They say she provided her accomplices, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, money to buy guns. They also say she created an alibi for herself during an initial failed attempt on her husband’s life. On the night of the murders, she left the door to her trailer unlocked for the gunmen. The arrests and convictions are notches on the belts of law enforcement and the prosecutors. They did their jobs and have moved on.
This was a loathsome act involving repulsive people, each driven by their own motivations. But each of the three participants rises to their individual levels of culpability. After the murders. the scheme unwound quickly, not as a result of shrewd investigative police work, but as a result of Teresa’s limited capacity. It was the kind of trusting innocence and vulnerability to manipulation exhibited by those with no faculty for critical thinking that provided the police and the prosecutors their case. Her co-conspirators, one portrayed as her “lover,” were petty ruffians, one aspiring to full-fledged thuggery.
Her “lover,” Matthew Shallenberger had grand designs. He wrote his girlfriend (not Teresa) after sentencing that he saw this plot as quick big money rather than a measly $20,000 for a “hit” in New York.
“From the moment I met her I knew she was someone who could be easily manipulated. From the moment I met her I had a plan for how I could use her to get some money.” – Matthew Shallenberger
However they met, however Shallenberger came to know about the insurance policies, it is clear even to the casual observer that he drew Lewis into this web. He sealed the deal with a sexual relationship and the attention she valued. Under the influence of pain killers, misplaced trust, and the allure of more money than she could have ever imagined, she loyally followed along. The judge based his sentencing on the misperception that she was the mastermind; that she recruited Shallenberger. This in itself should be enough to cause the Governor pause.
McDonnell’s reasoning does not evince the critical thinking skills he attributes to Teresa Lewis. If this is some attempt to demonstrate his law and order bona fides, he has chosen an awful example. This is further evidence that he is disconnected from the realities portions of his constituency live. If it doesn’t fit his narrow prescription for a social norm, he cannot deal with it. In this case, Teresa Lewis falls into a category no one can argue against being protected from pariahs. But the Governor chooses to turn a blind eye to cold reality. Thus he allows her to become Shallenberger’s victim again.