Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Anti-Death Penalty 'Advocate'?
Good Morning America's Jim Sciutto on Friday suggested Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as an example of a human rights "advocate" opposed to the execution of a woman in Virginia. The odd aside came from just one day after the Iranian leader blamed the United States for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Sciutto related the details of Teresa Lewis, who was executed on Thursday for plotting to kill her husband and stepson.
The ABC reporter then asserted, "But advocates, from crime novelist John Grisham, to Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, questioned whether she deserved the death penalty." [MP3 audio here.]
A transcript of the September 24 segment, which aired at 7:05am, follow:
ROBIN ROBERTS: The state of Virginia carried out the death penalty last night in the state's first execution of a woman in nearly a century. Now, executions aren't terribly uncommon in Virginia. This is the third one in 2010. But, this particular case is re-igniting the debate over crime and punishment. Jim Sciutto is in Jarrett, Virginia with more on this. Good morning, Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO: Robin, good morning. We're hearing of an harrowing scene inside L block just behind me last night. Eyewitnesses described Lewis as terrified and trembling as she entered the chamber. She turned down a sedative offered to death row inmates. A guard tapping her on the shoulder to calm her as she was put to death. It's here, inside this cramped death chamber, where Teresa Lewis became the first woman executed in Virginia in 98 years.
LARRY TRAYLOR (Virginia Department of Corrections): The execution of Teresa Lewis has been carried out in the manner as described by the laws in the commonwealth of Virginia.
SCIUTTO: Just outside, supporters, including her minister of seven years, kept a sad vigil. When you met with her for a final time, did you have a sense that she was ready for this?
REVEREND LYNN LITCHFIELD (Lewis' minister): She resigned herself to this. And she knew for seven years that this was a good possibility. But she didn't want it.
SCIUTTO: Teresa Lewis confessed to a horrible crime. Plotting with her lover and a friend to kill her husband and stepson, to collect on a $250,000 life insurance policy.
TERESA LEWIS: I just wish I could take it back. And I'm sorry for all the people I've hurt.
JIM SCIUTTO: But advocates from crime novelist John Grisham to Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, questioned whether she deserved the death penalty. She did not pull the trigger. The men who did got life in prison. And, crucially, court-appointed doctors found she has an IQ of just 72, with the moral judgment of a 12 to 14-year-old.
RICK WILSON (American University Law School): The practice of the death penalty in the United States is incredibly sporadic. One justice of the Supreme Court said, it's almost like being hit by lightning.
SCIUTTO: For the victims' families, it is not random at all. But just punishment for murder.
CATHY LEWIS (victim's daughter): A lot of people are not taking into consideration that it was my father and my brother that paid the ultimate price.