Though Ledell Lee was executed by the state of Arkansas four years ago for a 1993 murder, recent tests on the murder weapon and a bloody shirt reveal the DNA that was found on them belonged to an “unknown male” and not Lee.
The results, which were released on Friday, comes after the Innocence Project and ACLU demanded new DNA tests on the said pieces of evidence, THV11 reported. Lawyers from both organizations had argued there were “serious flaws in the evidence to convict Lee” and none of the physical evidence actually linked him to the killing.
The new tests did not find Lee’s DNA on the bloody shirt and wooden club that were found at the scene of the crime. The groups said the DNA, which belonged to an “unknown male”, did not also match the profile of anyone following a search on a national database, KATV reported. Additionally, five fingerprints that were obtained from the crime scene did not return any results when they were also run through a national database.
“I immediately thought this is something we needed to determine and establish before we executed back in 2017,” Furonda Brasfield, a local attorney who advocated for Lee’s case to be reviewed prior to his execution, told THV11. “We begged the Attorney General [Leslie Rutledge] not to ask the Governor for these dates to be set.”
Brasfield added: “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.”
The state of Arkansas sentenced Lee to death after he was found guilty of killing Debra Reese at her home in 1993. The deceased female was reportedly sexually assaulted and struck with a “tire thumper” over 30 times. Lee was among four inmates executed by the state in 2017 before the lethal injection drugs it had in stock expired.
Lee had also maintained he wasn’t behind the murder up until his execution, THV11 reported. Meanwhile, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge sent a statement to the news outlet doubling down on the state’s decision to go ahead with the execution.
“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,” Rutledge said. “After 20 years, I am prayerful that Debra’s family has had closure following his lawful execution in 2017.”