Legal News

New DNA Test Casts Doubt on Guilt of Arkansas Man Who Had Been Executed for Murder in 2017

DNA tests released a week have raised concerns regarding whether the state of Arkansas may have executed the incorrect individual in connection with the 1993 sexual assault and murder of Debra Reese.
Summaries of the evaluations, released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Innocence Project on Friday, showed that genetic material from a male not matching the the man executed for the crime has been found to the murder weapon. Ledell Lee was executed by the state for Reese’s murder in 2017. Lee claimed his innocence until the end, telling the BBC one day before his death:”My dying documents will always be as it’s beenI am an innocent man.”
“Though the results obtained 29 years after the evidence was gathered was partial and incomplete, it is notable that there are currently new DNA profiles that were not available throughout the trial or post-conviction event in Mr. Lee’s case,” Nina Morrison, senior litigation counsel at the Innocence Project, said in a statement. “We’re aware that one or more of these forensic law enforcement databases could create extra information later on.”
According to the advocacy teams, that filed a lawsuit a year ago to gain access to the DNA evidence used to convict Lee, evaluations showed the club was able to overcome Debra Reese to departure, along with the damn shirt that the weapon has been wrapped in, equally showed DNA material from an unknown male whose genetic profile didn’t develop any matches in a national database. Neither the club nor the top comprised Lee’s DNA, though there was”moderate support” showing that blood found of Lee’s left shoe may have come from Reese.
There was not any direct physical evidence that implicated Lee as Reese’s killer, and his appellate attorney afterwards filed an affidavit to the court acknowledging that he fought with substance abuse issues while representing his client and was unable to provide a suitable defense for Lee, the Washington Post reported.
Mitochondria testing was performed six strands of hair held in evidence. Lee was totally excluded as the origin for five, even however he couldn’t be ruled out because of”potential source” for one, the ACLU and Innocence Project said.
“Mitochondrial DNA testing examines DNA shared by all individuals in a common maternal line, including remote relatives; it may be employed to exclude known individuals as the origin, but may not be the foundation for complete identification or individualization,” the groups said in a joint press release.

“The courts always refused Ledell Lee’s frivolous claims since the evidence demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt he murdered Debra Reese by beating her to death in her home with a bicycle thumper,” Rutledge said. “After 20 years, I am prayerful that Debra’s family has had closure following his legal implementation in 2017.”
[picture via Arkansas Department of Corrections]
Have a tip we need to know? [email protected]