Four years after the state of Arkansas executed Ledell Lee for the 1993 murder of Debra Reese, new test results were recently released showing that the DNA of an “unknown male” was found on the wooden club and bloody shirt originally found at the scene, KATV reports. The club was beleived to have been the murder weapon used to kill Reese.
Lee’s DNA was not found on either of the objects from the crime scene and testing concluded that there’s “moderate support” that blood found on Lee’s shoe belonged to Reese. The new tests results obviously cast doubt on Lee’s guilt.
Back in January of 2020, the ACLU and the Innocence Project requested the new DNA testing, as attorneys said there were “serious flaws in the evidence to convict Lee” and that no physical evidence connected him to the crime.
Local attorney Furonda Brasfield said she “begged” the attorney general not to ask the governor to set Lee’s execution dates.
“Before you execute someone make sure you examine all of the evidence carefully, especially DNA evidence because we know now that the DNA evidence can be compelling and definitive to say one way or the other,” Brasfield said, per THV11.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told the outlet that “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.”
Lee maintained his innocence up until he was executed, as five of six hairs found at the scene, which were tested for mitochondrial DNA, couldn’t be linked to him. He reportedly couldn’t be “excluded as a potential source” in the sixth. The Innocence Project and the ACLU said new fingerprints found on the evidence could also not be identified.
“Mitochondrial DNA testing analyzes DNA shared by all individuals in a common maternal line, including distant relatives; it can be used to exclude known individuals as the source, but cannot be the basis for absolute identification or individualization,” the ACLU and Innocence Project said in a press release.