Attorneys ask court to reconsider decision

Published 11:25 pm Saturday, February 2, 2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Attorneys for Derrick Todd Lee say their client did not receive a fair trial in the 2002 death of a Baton Rouge woman, and want the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision upholding Lee’s conviction and death sentence.

In January, the high court ruled that Lee, who’s been accused in several slayings and convicted in two, was legitimately convicted in 2004 and sentenced to die in the death of Charlotte Murray Pace.

Attorney Marcia Widder of the Capital Appeals Project contends the court ignored the ‘‘highly prejudicial nature of the extraordinarily pervasive publicity’’ in deciding a trial outside of East Baton Rouge Parish wasn’t necessary to ensure Lee received a fair trial. She said the publicity ‘‘clearly poisoned the pool of prospective jurors from which Mr. Lee’s jury was struck.’’

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‘‘The court reached this conclusion only by ignoring the panic that spread throughout East Baton Rouge Parish during the 10-month period following the pronouncement that a serial killer was targeting beautiful women in their homes and Mr. Lees arrest,’’ she wrote in a rehearing request filed with the court this week.

Lee’s attorneys also want the supreme court to consider the issue of Lee’s alleged mental retardation

Lee is being held at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

Besides the two killings for which he’s been convicted — Lee also was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2002 death of Geralyn DeSoto — the court, in its decision last month, also noted four other killings to which Lee had been linked because evidence from those crimes was used at the 2004 trial in which Lee was sentenced to death.


Information from: The Advocate,