Innocence Project Responds to the Execution of Ledell Lee

04.21.17 By Innocence Staff

Ledell Lee executed by Arkansas in 2017 with out a chance of testing DNA that could have proven his innocence. Photo courtesy of the Young family.

Ledell Lee executed by Arkansas in 2017 with out a chance of testing DNA that could have proven his innocence. Photo courtesy of the Young family.

(Little Rock, AR – April 20, 2017) The following can be attributed to Innocence Project Senior Staff Attorney Nina Morrison who along with the ACLU represented Ledell Lee in seeking DNA testing prior to his execution this evening:

Ledell Lee proclaimed his innocence from the day of his arrest until the night of his execution twenty-four years later.  During that time, hundreds of innocent people have been freed from our nation’s prisons and death rows by DNA evidence. It is hard to understand how the same government that uses DNA to prosecute crimes every day could execute Mr. Lee without allowing him a simple DNA test.

Arkansas’s decision to rush through the execution of Mr. Lee just because its supply of lethal drugs are expiring at the end of the month denied him the opportunity to conduct DNA testing that could have proven his innocence. While reasonable people can disagree on whether death is an appropriate form of punishment, no one should be executed when there is a possibility that person is innocent.

Related: Ledell Lee: ‘My life on death row is like Twilight Zone’

In a dissenting opinion denying Lee a stay issued today, Arkansas Supreme Court Judge Josephine Linker Hart made a powerful argument for why DNA testing was in the interest of justice. Justice Hart characterized Lee’s claim for DNA testing of hairs the state claimed linked Lee to the crime as a “modest request,” noting that the hair evidence had been used against him at trial and “tilted in the State’s favor a very weak case based entirely on circumstantial evidence.”

Judge Hart also emphasized the unfairness and arbitrariness of the Arkansas court’s grant of a stay to Stacey Johnson for DNA testing while denying one to Lee, adding, “I am at a loss to explain this Court’s dissimilar treatment of similarly situated litigants.” Judge Hart concluded by stating, “The court’s error in denying the motion for stay will not be capable of correction.”

Additional information about Lee’s case is available here.

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Detlef Lodenkämper August 18, 2017 at 8:23 am Reply   

I feel deep sympathy with the family of Ledell Lee.. May God give you strength und faith. God bless you.

Tonisha Ellis August 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm Reply   

The Judicial system needs an overhaul period. My husband is currently serving time wrongfully convicted on circumstantial evidence going on 19 years now in KERN VALLEY STATE PRISON DELANO CA. He has continually from start claimed his innocence. We have been through so much trying to get him home. He has self educated himself in law and has been fighting nonstop. He has missed so much of life outside with his family. We are in desperate need of help. We’re tapped out on monies and need a criminal or civil lawyer to help us further. We have evidence to prove his innocence but its being overlooked. There will be so many names to name who are wrong in their conviction of my husband and so its being kept on a hush. He hasn’t committed a murder and was given 39years to life plus 19years to life with possibility of parole on both sentences this is due to enhancements that were placed on him from a corrupt officer. He DID NOT commit the crime hes imprisoned for and the person’s who did commit the crime came forward and gave written statements that they were coerced by these officers to implement my husband in this crime. ROBBERY! I feel I’m being robbed of time with my husband. Please help us.

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