The Pulaski County Circuit Court has issued a consent order on the terms for the DNA analysis of evidence in a 1993 murder of Debra Reese for which Ledell Lee was executed by the state of Arkansas in 2017.
The Arkansas Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups had filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit Jan. 23 to obtain evidence held by the Jacksonville police in the belief that DNA evidence and fingerprint analysis will exonerate Lee, who protested his innocence up until his execution. The Jacksonville City Council voted Friday, Jan. 31, to allow the release of the evidence.
Lee’s sister, plaintiff Patricia Young, was seeking DNA testing on certain items, including hairs from the bedroom where Reese was murdered, skin from under her fingernails and five fingerprints from the murder scene, that was not available at the time of the trial. The items will be sent to a lab approved by both Young and Jacksonville police and results provided to the lawyers for the plaintiff.
In a statement issued after the vote by the ACLU of Arkansas, Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU Capital Punishment project, said lawyers are “grateful”:
“This DNA and fingerprint evidence quite possibly holds the key to who killed Debra Reese in 1993. It should have been tested before Ledell was executed. By voting to turn over the evidence for testing now, the Council members have shown that they are earnest in their pursuit of the truth and justice for the citizens of their city. We thank them for their courage.”