Thursday, September 23, 2010

Virginia: Jagger. Day Late. Argument Short.

At the Huffington Post, noted criminal law expert Bianca Jagger - whom, we feel safe to assume, opposes the death penalty in any and all instances - is calling upon the Governor of Virginia to halt today's execution of Teresa Lewis, in part, because Lewis "will be the first woman to be put to death by the State of Virginia since 1912." Which is to say, no one is particularly concerned about the gender gaps in our prisons, or on death row. Those gaps are to be protected, if not celebrated.

Jagger - apparently too busy to comment on the case until today - notes Lewis was sentenced to death "for plotting the murders of her husband and stepson" but complains that the "actual murderers" (the co-conspirators who actually wielded the weapons) received only life sentences. Jagger points out that Lewis (like, say, Al Capone, or Charles Manson), "never held a gun or fired a shot" (although Lewis did leave a door open for quick entry, stood by and watched the murders and waited a half hour afterward before calling police).

Jagger is also stunned that Lewis appears to have an IQ of 72 - a fact which appears to have in no way ever affected Lewis' life or interactions with others until the time of the murder. She was not a ward of the state and no one seems to have been making any effort to make her one. Nonetheless, "it is very clear" to Jagger that Lewis "possessed neither the verbal intelligence nor the independent initiative to frame and mastermind a plan to murder the victims." Again, the master plan, in this case, was to leave a door open, sit back and watch and to call the police much later. The cynic might note that the level of complexity in this grand scheme did not demand too many IQ points. See complete letter here.

P.S. A comment at TalkLeft observes, "I believe the lowest result of the several IQ tests she took (all of them were administered post-arrest) was 72 ... All of the IQ tests were administered after she was arrested for the murders. ie., she had every reason to purposely try do poorly on the tests. And she also is a HS grad, had never failed a class, had earned a nursing assistant certification and had raised a child in addition for caring for her aged parents. I don't for a second suggest she's the brightest crayon in the box, but dumb people murder others just as dead as smart people."

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