ACLU files for stay of execution for Ledell Lee | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ACLU files for stay of execution for Ledell Lee

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 9:18 AM

The ACLU has taken over the representation of death row inmate Ledell Lee, currently scheduled to be executed on Thursday, and today filed for a stay of execution.

The ACLU makes two claims in its filing: innocence, based on the fact that blood and hair recovered at the scene was never tested for DNA (fingerprints found at the scene do not match Lee); and intellectual disability from fetal alcohol syndrome, which the ACLU argues demands funding for a mitigation investigation that was never properly done.

The ACLU provided the following summary of its motions, after the jump.

SUMMARY OF MOTION FOR POST-CONVICTION DNA TESTING

Mr. Lee has always maintained his innocence in the death of Debra Reese. On April 17, 2017, Mr. Ledell Lee filed a Motion For Post-Conviction DNA Testing in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Arkansas seeking DNA testing of forensic evidence used by the prosecution at his trial in 1995. The prosecution relied upon hairs found at the scene and two tiny pinpoints of material on the shoes of Mr. Lee which the prosecution contended was human blood. Fingerprints found at the scene did not match Mr. Lee.

One intact hair and several hair fragments from the crime scene were analyzed by a criminalist who testified that at the time of his analysis, it was scientifically impossible to say whether the hair came from Mr. Lee. The criminalist could only compare the hair found at the scene with Mr. Lee’s hair and say that the “Negroid” hair at the scene was not inconsistent with Mr. Lee’s hair. This type of side-by-side comparison of hair is not scientifically accurate. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences found that hair microscopy cannot uniquely identify one person as the source of hair, concluding that evidence of a match “must be confirmed using [mitochondrial] DNA analysis.” Mr. Lee is now seeking to have mitochondrial DNA testing performed on the hairs at the scene to show they are not his. Through this new DNA analysis that was not available at the time of Mr. Lee’s trial, it can be conclusively determined whether the hair found at the scene belonged to Mr. Lee.

A serologist testified at trial that he found two tiny pinpoints of material – one on each of Mr. Lee’s shoes – that he believes was human blood, but he was unable to determine the origin of the blood. Despite a very bloody crime scene with extensive blood spatter, there was no blood on any of Mr. Lee’s other clothing he was wearing just three hours after the crime. In performing the pre-trial test, the serologist consumed all of the visible material on Mr. Lee’s shoes so Mr. Lee’s attorneys had no opportunity to test the material. STR DNA testing now permits the examination of minute quantities of biological evidence – evidence which probably still exists on Mr. Lee’s tennis shoes. This testing was not available at the time of Mr. Lee’s trial, but now may be used to show the material on his shoes was not Ms. Reese’s blood.

DNA testing is perfectly suited for cases like this one, where technology unavailable at the time of trial can conclusively establish the legitimacy of Mr. Lee’s innocence claim and undermine evidence used by the prosecution to convict him.

SUMMARY OF MOTION FOR FUNDS

On April 17, 2017, Mr. Ledell Lee filed a motion in United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, seeking funds from the court to retain the services of a mitigation specialist. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly demanded that attorneys must investigate the background of a capital defendant and present mitigating evidence of the defendant’s life history. Due to a total break-down of effective advocacy for Mr. Lee over the last two decades, no attorneys have done such an investigation.

It appears that until last week, despite the fact that counsel have known for over a decade that Mr. Lee was in special education and no psychological evaluation was ever done of Mr. Lee. Dr. Dale Watson, a neuropsychologist has now evaluated Mr. Lee and determined that Mr. Lee has intellectual disability, mild or borderline, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and significant brain damage. The intellectually disabled are exempt from execution under Atkins v. Virginia. This is the type of evidence the Supreme Court has emphasized should be investigated and presented as part of a defendant’s life history. Based on these newly discovered findings, Mr. Lee is seeking funds from the court to hire a mitigation specialist to investigate and prove these claims and his ineligibility for the death penalty. 

Tags: , , , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

  • Authorities investigate accusation against Dean Elliott

    An accusation has been lodged against Dean Elliott, the Dillard's lobbyist and former state representative who is running for the District 15 seat in the state Senate, by a woman who claims that he was involved in a 2016 hit and run incident on Tennyson Drive in Conway that left her with severe injuries. Through a lawyer, Elliott says the allegation is false and politically motivated.
    • May 17, 2018
  • Rep. Jana Della Rosa disputes that Randell Shelton's Paradigm Consulting was a "bogus company"

    During the trial of former state Sen. Jon Woods and consultant Randell Shelton, the prosecution described Shelton's Paradigm Strategic Consulting as a "bogus company." But Rep. Jana Della Rosa, who paid Paradigm in 2014 for help with campaign messaging, said that Shelton did legitimate work for her.
    • May 16, 2018
  • A senator's vanity

    Spotted in Little Rock...
    • May 16, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Donald Trump declares war on Hillary Clinton's marriage

    Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to the New York Times yesterday in which he declared open season on the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton's past infidelity. Seems like a loser, but I've been wrong before.
    • Oct 1, 2016
  • French Hill votes against disaster aid to Puerto Rico

    Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill alone among Arkansas's House delegation voted last week against a measure that provided $36.5 billion in disaster aid, a portion  for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as well as money for wildfire response and to support the flood insurance program.
    • Oct 14, 2017
  • The inspiring Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton's campaign for president illustrates again the double standard applied to women. Some writers get it. They even find the supposedly unlikable Clinton inspiring.
    • Oct 16, 2016

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: An open line and daily news summary

    • Omg haters gonna hate, but I cant wait to see the Georgia OKeefe show down…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: An open line and daily news summary

    • The White House jumped the gun on making the commemorative coins. Even though the summit…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: An open line and daily news summary

    • Some days a rabbit never stands a chance. https://livingwilderness.blogspot.com/2018… I especially like the bottom picture…

    • on May 24, 2018

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation