Derrick Todd Lee, Baton Rouge Serial Killer
Deciding the Fate of Lee
Alexander's testimony coupled with the forensic evidence proved to have a significant impact on the jury. On October 12, 2004, after deliberating for just 80 minutes, jurors returned their verdict, finding Lee "guilty" of first degree-murder. Pace's mother Ann broke down crying after the verdict was read. Deslatte quoted her in an AP Worldstream article saying that her daughter "somewhere must be real proud that it happened this way. There is evil in the world and he (Lee) is the personification of that." The next step that Lee had to face was the penalty hearing, in which the decision would be made concerning whether he would live or die.
During the penalty hearing, jurors listened to conflicting statements made by mental health professionals concerning Lee's intelligence. According to the Supreme Court, a mentally retarded convict with an IQ below 70 must be exempted from the death penalty. Testimony by expert witnesses presented by the defense claimed that Lee was indeed retarded with an IQ between 62 and 65, making it difficult for him to understand the seriousness of his crimes.
However, expert witnesses for the prosecution stated that Lee was not mentally retarded, basing their opinions on his decision-making ability and past work experience. Two men from a construction company where Lee worked as a pipe fitter also testified at the hearing. According to an October 15th AP Worldstream article by Deslatte, the men claimed that Lee excelled at his job and was able to read blueprints, which made it difficult to believe he had such a low IQ.
Following the arguments the jury deliberated. It took only 93 minutes for them to reach a verdict. The jury rejected the defenses contention that Lee was mentally retarded and decided to sentence Lee to death by lethal injection. Family and friends of the victims rejoiced, hugged and cried, most feeling that justice had finally been served.
In December 2004, Lee was formally sentenced to death. His lawyers have asked for a new trial, claiming that the jurors already were biased towards Lee before the Pace murder trial even commenced. Defense lawyers also filed documents for a new penalty hearing because Lee was mentally retarded and should not be put to death. Even though a judge has denied both requests, Lee's lawyers still plan to appeal.
A 2Advocate.com article said that, "In addition to Pace and DeSoto, Lee has been indicted on a count of first-degree murder in the death of Trineisha Dene Colomb of Lafayette, and booked on first-degree murder counts in the deaths of Gina Wilson Green, Pam Kinamore, Carrie Lynn Yoder and Randi Mebruer, all of East Baton Rouge Parish." Yet, in January 2005, Colomb's family decided not to put Lee on trial, since he had already been convicted and sentenced to death. In the meantime, Lee spends what is left of his life on Louisiana State Penitentiary's death row.
For a very different view of this investigation from the view point of local Zachary, La., police department who knew Derrick Todd Lee very well, click here.