24 Sep 2010

US woman who conspired to kill family executed

7:03 pm on 24 September 2010

A woman who conspired to murder her husband and stepson has been executed in the American state of Virginia.

Teresa Lewis, 41, was the first woman to be put to death in the United States for five years and in Virginia since 1912.

Lewis, who had learning difficulties, used sex and cash to persuade hitmen to kill her family in 2002.

The US Supreme Court and Virginia's governor refused to stop her execution, which took place at 9pm local time on Thursday at Greensville Correctional Center, the BBC reports.

Lewis spent her last hours with her spiritual adviser and family members at the prison in the city of Jarratt.

The case has attracted attention because executions of women are rare in the US and because Lewis had learning difficulties. Her IQ was 72, just two points above the legal minimum for executions in Virginia.

Her lawyers said it was wrong for her to face the death penalty, white the hitmen only received life sentences, but the appeals for mercy were turned down.

Lewis's last words reportedly were: "I'm very sorry".