US woman executed over murders

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The first woman executed in the United States in five years was put to death in Virginia on Thursday for arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson.

Teresa Lewis, 41, became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century. Supporters and relatives of the victims watched her execution at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

Lewis enticed two men through sex, cash and a promised cut in an insurance policy to shoot her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis Jr., and his son, Charles, as they were sleeping in the couple's mobile home in October 2002. Both gunmen were sentenced to life in prison and one committed suicide in 2006.

Lewis appeared tearful, her jaw clenched, as she was escorted into the death chamber. She glanced tensely around at the 14 assembled corrections officials before being bound to a gurney with heavy leather straps.

In the moments before her execution, Lewis asked if her husband's daughter was there. Kathy Clifton, Lewis' stepdaughter, was in an adjacent witness room blocked from the inmate's view by a two-way mirror.

"I want Kathy to know that I love her and I'm very sorry," Lewis said.

The Lewis execution stirred an unusual amount of attention because of her gender, claims she lacked the intelligence to mastermind the killings and the post-conviction emergence of defence evidence that one of the gunmen manipulated her.

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