Harrowing new details have emerged of the execution of accused murderer, Lendell Lee.
Here's the full story...
In 1993, Lendell Lee of Jacksonville, Arkansas was arrested for the murder of his neighbor, Debra Reese.
Twenty-six-year-old Reese was found beaten to death by a tyre thumper, a tool resembling a sawn-off baseball bat used by truckers to test the pressure of their wheels.
A neighbor testified that he saw Lee enter and leave the victim's home the day of the killing, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
In 1993, Debra Reese was found murdered in her Jacksonville, Arkansas home. Police quickly zeroed in on Ledell Lee… https://t.co/15FvSIpEBr— Paint the Town Dead (@Paint the Town Dead)1620757644.0
Another said that Lee came to his door once asking for tools - what prosecutors suggested was Lee's tactic for seeking out women home alone.
Authorities later said a shoe print and human blood found in Lee's sneakers also supported their case.
Subsequently, Lee was convicted of her murder and handed the death penalty.
Yet despite his conviction, Lee continued to maintain his innocence...
And his attorneys appealed his case right up to his lethal injection in 2017.
The lawyers advocating for Lee said a review uncovered flaws in the evidence, including a "shockingly" biased photo lineup.
Lee's appellate attorney also acknowledged in an affidavit that he had struggled with substance abuse and didn't have the resources to mount a proper defense.
In the weeks before his execution, the Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took on Lee's case and filed for an emergency stay of execution...
We are still here at vigil for Ledell Lee. #ArExecutions https://t.co/ZO8Ha4x3FV— ArkansasAbolish.org (@ArkansasAbolish.org)1492744519.0
So that crucial DNA testing could be done, which could have proven Lee's innocence.
However, the motion was denied and Lee was executed on April 20th, 2017.
People were furious at the news of his death...
@MSNBC @AliciaMenendez Do you think this justice system will accept their mistake? They will do anything to hide th… https://t.co/p5VRD52Gru— Miguel Figueroa (@Miguel Figueroa)1620648623.0
@ProphetOfTru7h @nytimes Because the American system of justice is more interested in maintaining prison numbers th… https://t.co/bqcJkieIsY— Christopher Tulloch (@Christopher Tulloch)1620395580.0
@MSNBC @AliciaMenendez When an innocent man is executed the state becomes the murderer. Abolish the death penalty.— Frederick Frank (@Frederick Frank)1620655251.0
@MSNBC @AliciaMenendez We must repeal the death penalty. Our justice system doesn't work.— Marlene L Jones (@Marlene L Jones)1620648365.0
@MSNBC @AliciaMenendez As an arkansan, I find this entire state and it’s right wing Govt appalling and a lesson to… https://t.co/Uq2k6jBDrf— Jennifer Cox (@Jennifer Cox)1620649338.0
@MSNBC @AliciaMenendez This story is chilling, but the much larger problem is how the U.S. punishes and incarcerate… https://t.co/97dX1klgfL— Liam Sarsfield (@Liam Sarsfield)1620648798.0
@nytimes The death penalty is cruel, archaic and ineffective.— Stan Van Gundy (@Stan Van Gundy)1620408350.0
And now, to make the situation even more perilous, groundbreaking new evidence could potentially clear his name.
Ledell Lee was executed by lethal injection in Arkansas in 2017. Four years later, new DNA testing revealed that ge… https://t.co/TefgJ7tQX8— The New York Times (@The New York Times)1620395105.0
4 years on from his execution, a different man's DNA has now been found on the murder weapon which, quite shockingly, was never tested before.
The new DNA results, twenty-nine years after the evidence was collected, "proved to be incomplete and partial," acknowledged Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project.
READ: Statement from Innocence Project on execution of Ledell Lee #ARExecutions https://t.co/HNpsLJFqH2— Kimberly Rusley (@Kimberly Rusley)1492755760.0
But she described the discovery as significant, leaving the door open for more findings in a case with no physical evidence linking Lee to Reese's murder.
Lee's sister, Patricia Young, who has been fighting for years to prove her brother did not murder Reese, said in a statement:
@AGRutledge Like you added an innocent black man to your state's rushed executions tally nearly a decade ago?? You… https://t.co/IdanGm14fY— ℒ ² (@ℒ ²)1621034889.0
"We remain hopeful that there will be further information uncovered in the future."
And now, as people continue to come to terms with the news of Lee's potential innocence, his final last words have come to light.
Christopher Bucktin, The Mirror's US editor, has this week revealed Lee's final words to him as he was interviewed while awaiting his last meal.
Bucktin wrote of his encounter:
"With less than 24 hours before his execution, and with conviction in his voice, condemned Ledell Lee told me: 'Chris, they are killing an innocent man.'"
"Speaking from his 'cage' on the Varner Unit near Grady, Arkansas, where he awaited his last meal, it was, to my knowledge, the last interview he ever gave."
According to Bucktin, Lee had said:
"They are trying to kill an innocent man, just to see if they can actually get away with it. History has proven that instead of righting a wrong, this nation would rather cover up instead of apologizing and try to make right that wrong... And why? Because this nation as a whole would rather live with that lie to keep from being embarrassed no matter what the cost. Even if that cost means trying to kill an innocent man."
2 days later, Lee was executed.
Despite the new development, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who oversaw the 2017 frenzy of executions, defended Lee's killing. "It's my duty to carry out the law," he said, adding: "The fact is that the jury found him guilty based upon the information that they had."
He labeled the DNA find "inconclusive."