New DNA Tests Suggest Arkansas May Have Executed the Wrong Man

New DNA test results from a 1993 murder in Arkansas have revealed genetic material that does not belong to the man executed for the killing. The results strongly suggest the state of Arkansas put an innocent man to death four years ago.

In 1993, Ledell Lee was convicted of killing his neighbor Debra Reese and was one of four Arkansas inmates put to death in 2017. He maintained his innocence to the end.

Now, the ACLU and the Innocence Project have teamed up to test DNA evidence from the case, including the murder weapon and a bloody t-shirt found at the scene. What they found are fingerprints and DNA material that don’t belong to Lee. Their findings have been entered into the national criminal database, but no matches have turned up yet.

“While the results obtained 29 years after the evidence was collected proved to be incomplete and partial, it is notable that there are now new DNA profiles that were not available during the trial and post-conviction proceedings in Mr. Lee’s case,” said Nina Morrison, part of the Innocence Project’s senior litigation counsel.

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The city agreed to allow new tests on old cases following a lawsuit from the ACLU and the Innocence Project.

“We are hopeful that one or more of these forensic law enforcement databases will generate additional information in the future,” Morrison’s statement continued.

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