Judge denies ACLU's motion for new DNA testing in Ledell Lee case

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge has denied a motion set forth by the ACLU, which asked for new DNA testing for Ledell Lee's case.

The ACLU cited two reasons for the motion to stay Lee's execution. The first reason was that advances in DNA testing allowed for new testing in his case. The second reason given by the ACLU was that he has an intellectual disability due to fetal alcohol syndrome and his "horrible legal counsel" did not present that in his original trial.

They argued that new testing would prove that the hair found at the scene did not belong to Lee and that blood on his shoe was not from the victim, Debra Reese. Lee was convicted for the 1993 murder of Reese.

In his ruling, Judge Herbert Wright said that improvements to DNA testing "has been available for some years prior" and questioned the delay in the filing by the ACLU.

"If the court were to accept the defendant's argument about both the hair and the blood on the tennis shoe, there would still be sufficient proof presented by the state at trial for the jury to reach a guilty verdict," Wright claimed in his ruling.

Wright said if a new trial was granted, the eyewitness testimony of three people would still place Lee inside or near Reese's home at the time of the murder.

"This is a story of the judicial process gone totally wrong," said Cassandra Stubbs, with the ACLU. "The kinds of attorney failures here: an affair with the presiding judge by the prosecutor, gross intoxication by defense counsel, and wild incompetence undermine our profession as a whole. Mr. Lee has never had the opportunity to have his case truly investigated, despite serious questions about guilt, and his intellectual disability."

Stubbs was appointed to represent Lee within the past week, but has been represented by Lee Short since August. The ACLU has not responded to the court's denial of their motion at this time.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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