So many horrific things happen in America’s courts that’s it’s amazing so many people believe we have a fair, just and totally not racist legal system. We’ve seen countless stories about Black men serving time for decades only to be found innocent years later. In Arkansas, DNA testing has revealed genetic material of an “unknown male” instead of the Black man who was executed for a 1993 murder.
According to KATV, Ledell Lee was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of Debra Reese. In 2017, he was one of four inmates the state of Arkansas executed before it had exhausted its supply of lethal injection chemicals. Lee maintained his innocence up to the day he was executed, according to THV11. A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arkansas and the Innocence Project on behalf of Patricia Young, Lee’s sister, resulted in the city of Jacksonville, Ark., ruling that new tests could be run on the evidence in Lee’s case.
The new tests revealed that the DNA on the club used to murder Reese matched an unknown man that wasn’t Lee. The groups added that the DNA found on the club didn’t have any matches across national databases. They also ran tests on a set of five fingerprints found at the scene of the crime, but those also didn’t result in any matches in a national database.
“While the results obtained twenty-nine years after the evidence was collected proved to be incomplete and partial, it is notable that there are now new DNA profiles that were not available during the trial or post-conviction proceedings in Mr. Lee’s case,” Nina Morrison, senior litigation counsel at the Innocence Project, said in a statement.
It’s unclear where they will go from here and what this new information could entail. Morrison said she hopes that the databases will eventually be able to provide new information about the case.
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Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who denied Lee a stay of execution, released a statement to THV11.
“The courts consistently rejected Ledell Lee’s frivolous claims because the evidence demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that he murdered Debra Reese by beating her to death inside her home with a tire thumper. After 20 years, I am prayerful that Debra’s family has had closure following his lawful execution in 2017,” her statement read.
Well, unfortunately, it looks like there might be a shadow of a doubt.