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20070905: State Supreme Court hears appeal in serial killer case LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The Louisiana Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday over whether convicted serial killer Derrick Todd Lee received a fair trial in 2004, when an East Baton Rouge jury sentenced him to die by lethal injection for the rape and murder of Charlotte Murray Pace.

Lee remains on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He is also serving a life sentence for the murder of Geralyn Barr DeSoto of West Baton Rouge Parish. Prosecutors say Lee is linked to the murders of seven women between 1998 and 2003.

The justices did not indicate when they will rule.

On Wednesday, family members of two victims listened to the lengthy arguments at the courthouse in the French Quarter and later said Lee got exactly what he deserved - including a fair trial.

"Put him to death," said Lynne Marino, the mother of the slain Pam Kinamore, one of four additional victims prosecutors linked to Lee during the Pace trial. "He deserves to die. He got more than a fair trial. DNA convicts and DNA exonerates."

Ann Pace, the mother of Charlotte Pace, attended the hearing with her daughter Sam Pace. It was only the first of many likely appeals of Lee's death sentence, they acknowledged.

"Law is not the same as justice," said Ann Pace, outside the courthouse.

Lee's defense team, the Capital Appeals Project, argued that their client is mentally retarded and therefore legally exempt from the death penalty. They also said his trial should never have been held in Baton Rouge, where fear ran rampant before investigators finally nabbed the killer who preyed on women in their own homes.

"It was a perfect storm of prejudice in the fall of 2004," said Marcia Widder, who argued Lee's appeal before the justices.
 

20070713: Serial Killer Victim Remembered LA Lafayette Serial Killer News
The family of one of the women linked to convicted serial killer Derrick Todd Lee is remembering the young woman, on the anniversary of the day she went missing, back in 2002.

A homemade cross marks the exact spot where Pam Kinamore's body was found, five years ago.

Thursday afternoon, Kinamore's mother and brother went back to that place near the Atchafalaya River.

DNA evidence linked Lee to Kinamore during the trial.

Kinamore's mother, Lynne Marino, says its still hard to let go.

Meanwhile, Derrick Todd Lee, who's on death row at Angola, has filed a request for an administrative remedy.

Lee says in the affidavit that he's in painful conditions.

He also says he doesn't like the camera that's been placed in his cell, nor does he like to be in the black box handcuffs whenever he's not in his cell.

 

20070108: Appeals court blasts order for DNA swab during serial killer hunt LA New Orleans Serial Killer News
A state judge improperly allowed police to obtain the DNA of an innocent man as they hunted for a south Louisiana serial killer, a federal appeals court has decided. In a strongly worded 16-page decision, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans concludes state District Judge Richard Anderson lacked sufficient evidence to sign off on a search warrant for Shannon Kohler's DNA. Kohler, a 47-year-old welder, was among 1,200 south Louisiana men given oral saliva swabs to eliminate them as suspects in the slayings of seven women over the past decade. He was one of the few men identified in the media as a suspect who would not cooperate with authorities after he initially refused the swab. He cited, among other things, the fact that his foot is three to four sizes larger than a print found at one of the crime scenes. Derrick Todd Lee has been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in one of the slayings and convicted of second-degree murder in another. Lee also is accused of killing five other women. The ruling, issued last week, comes in a civil lawsuit Kohler filed three years ago in Baton Rouge federal court. The suit seeks damages, the return of Kohler's DNA and the "obliteration" of records connecting him to the serial-killer investigation. U.S. District Judge James Brady tossed his claim last year, ruling there was probable cause for the warrant. The 5th Circuit decision means the case now will move toward trial. Appellate Judge Emilio M. Garza wrote that Baton Rouge police Detective Christopher Johnson's affidavit seeking a warrant "failed to provide a nexus between Kohler's DNA and the serial killings." Law enforcement officers seeking a search warrant must provide an affidavit containing facts of the case so a judge can determine whether there is probable cause that the items sought are evidence of a crime. Johnson's affidavit cited anonymous tips from two people naming Kohler as "a possible person who needed to be checked." It also cited Kohler's 20-year-old burglary conviction, but failed to mention he had been pardoned in 1996. The affidavit also pointed to Kohler's unemployment at the time of the investigation and previous work as a welder for a company that had a secondary shop on the road where a victim's cell phone was found. Garza writes that an anonymous tip alone "is rarely sufficient" evidence to issue a warrant. The judges said "neither the 20-year-old burglary conviction nor Kohler's employment status would lead a prudent person to believe that Kohler was responsible for three rape-murders." Assistant City-Parish Attorney James Hilburn has argued probable cause for the search warrant is established if the affidavit is considered in conjunction with an FBI profile that identified behaviors and personality traits of the perpetrator. Kohler matched two of the traits: Employment in a job that required physical strength and financial insecurity due to employment. However, the profile wasn't included with the search-warrant application. But Garza writes that even if the profile is taken into account, it "adds little, if anything, to the probable cause analysis in this case." "These two traits are so generalized in nature that hundreds, if not thousands, of men in the Baton Rouge area could have possessed them, and they are, therefore, insufficient to warrant the belief that Kohler was the serial killer."
 

20060402: Serial killer book tries to fill in blanks LA Lafayette Serial Killer News

I’VE BEEN WATCHING YOU: THE SOUTH LOUISIANA SERIAL KILLER

In Baton Rouge, in the early 2000s, the murders of beautiful, white, affluent women were making headlines. On television and in newspapers, barely a day went by without a mention of the search for the man responsible.

In grocery stores and family gatherings, the conversation was the same: Who was responsible? How was the killer finding his victims? Why were women letting him in their homes? How did he get away without being noticed?

I’ve Been Watching You: The South Louisiana Serial Killer,  purports to answer these questions while telling the story of the victims and the man ultimately convicted of two of the murders, Derrick Todd Lee.

Mustafa is the former managing editor of City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge. Clayton is the prosecutor who got a conviction in the second-degree murder trial of Lee in the stabbing death of Geralyn DeSoto, a 21-year-old LSU graduate who lived in Addis. Israel worked as editorial director for City Social and now works for a state agency that is helping to bring Louisiana’s tourism industry back after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

When writing the book, all three relied on their experiences living in the Baton Rouge area during the hunt for the serial killer.

For anyone new to Baton Rouge, I’ve Been Watching You offers a way to become familiar with the terror inflicted on the city by Lee. Lee, a 36-year-old husband and father, now sits on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Besides a life sentence in DeSoto’s death, Lee was convicted in Baton Rouge of the murder of Charlotte Murray Pace, also an LSU graduate. Lee received the death penalty in Pace’s murder.

In all, he has been linked by DNA evidence to the deaths of seven women, six of them white women who lived in the Baton Rouge area, and a black woman who lived in Lafayette.

For a long time during the investigation into the women’s deaths, investigators believed the perpetrator was a white man. I’ve Been Watching You describes how investigators didn’t believe Lee was the killer and failed to take seriously tips to the Multi-Agency Homicide Task Force because Lee was black.

While I’ve Been Watching You is an interesting read, it tends to stray from its claim of being nonfiction.Using the clues left behind during the struggles between Lee and his victims, the authors try to recreate what happened at each of the crime scenes. Prosecutors use that technique when examining the evidence and trying to piece together events to prove their case to a jury.

What is misleading, however, is when the authors present their assumptions as fact. For instance, in the chapter describing DeSoto’s murder, the authors describe their version of how Lee entered her home. They suspect Lee knocked and DeSoto answered without hesitation, but no one knows for sure.

The book provides details about Lee’s life growing up in St. Francisville and an explanation, although speculative, of why he turned to a life of violence. It provides new excerpts from DeSoto’s diary describing the relationship between her and an abusive husband. The book also contains written exchanges between Pace and her mother that pull at the heartstrings. In addition to chapters on each of the victims linked to Lee through DNA evidence, I’ve Been Watching You includes chapters on the deaths of 10 other women whom the authors believe Lee killed.

In the opening chapter describing the murder of Connie Warner, the authors write: “It would be eleven years before her family would get some inkling as to who had committed this despicable act. Eleven years of wondering.

“But someone did know, and after he had dumped Connie’s body by the lake, he felt the satisfaction that comes with power, the power to hold a human life in his hands, the power to make another human being succumb to his whims. He had held the light-skinned woman, had felt her hair, had run his fingers along her cheekbones as she begged for mercy. He had made her his. His appetite had been appeased.”

In this passage and many more, not enough is done to distinguish the facts of the cases from tantalizing details added by the authors for effect. Although a suspect, Lee has never been charged with Warner’s murder. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 washed away all physical evidence from her body.

The book also fails to give credit where credit is due. Becky Chustz, the assistant district attorney who responded to the scene of DeSoto’s murder, worked for months with detectives in West Baton Rouge Parish gathering evidence and preparing the case against Lee. Chustz gets barely a mention. When reading the chapters of I’ve Been Watching You, only someone familiar with court proceedings would know that Clayton did not single-handedly prosecute Lee.  The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office secured the death penalty for Lee.

As for new information about the crimes, the book falls short of its promises. Those who followed the news media closely during the hunt for Lee and his subsequent trials may be disappointed as they make their way through I’ve Been Watching You. Much of the information has already been released to the public, and the book fails to provide much in the way of new insight about this cold-blooded killer.

 

20060222: Serial Killer - Lessons learned LA Lafayette Serial Killer News

The lessons learned from the serial killer case are being passed on to forensic scientists all over the world. At a conference in Seattle Monday, local DNA specialists talked about the new techniques used to catch Derrick Todd Lee.

"What we learned, pitfalls and a lot of new techniques never used before."

DNA scientist George Schiro helped pioneer some of those techniques at the Acadiana Crime Lab.

"We looked at the profile to see if there was information between the lines that could put us in the right direction and give a lead for where the investigation goes."

One unique lead in the serial killer case that came from dna : the killer was 85% African. Once they had a profile, scientists also considered using it to track down a relative of the killer, someone whose dna was similar and was already in the system. One of the pitfalls Schiro mentioned: communications breakdowns. As in so many cases, Lee was looked at by the task force.

"His information slipped through the cracks until the dna match by state police occurred."

The hope is that lessons from the South Louisiana serial killer case will prevent missteps and help solve cases faster in the future.

 

20050820: Fowler memorial service honors presumed victim of serial killer LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Former state Elections Commissioner Jerry Fowler will hold a memorial service next weekend for his wife, Mari Ann, who disappeared Christmas Eve 2002, a presumed victim of serial killer Derrick Todd Lee of St. Francisville.

The service and Mass for Mari Ann Fowler, who was 65 at the time of her disappearance, will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 27 at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, with a ensuing reception at Michabelle Inn and Restaurant.

Jerry Fowler, 65, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 2000, was in the middle of a five-year sentence when Mari Ann Fowler was attacked outside a Subway sandwich shop in Port Allen on her way for a Christmas visit with her husband at the Beaumont, Texas, federal prison.

After his release from a Baton Rouge halfway house June 22, Jerry Fowler began working on a memorial service for his wife, who was declared dead by a state court judge in 2004.

"Nothing had been done, and the family needed some closure," Jerry Fowler said. Authorities believe Lee was her assailant, he said. Her body has not been found.

"She deserves to be honored because she led a good life, was a great education and civic leader and did a lot of good," Jerry Fowler said.

At the time of her disappearance, Mari Ann Fowler was an education consultant. She spent her career as a teacher and worked for 27 years for the state Education Department in various capacities, including assistant state superintendent of education for research and development, and served briefly as the governor's education adviser.

She studied at Southeastern Louisiana University but graduated in English and speech education from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. She held a master's in education supervision from LSU and a doctorate in education administration from Nova Southeast University.

Although Mari Ann Fowler's career was in Baton Rouge, the memorial service is being held in Hammond to accommodate her 90-year-old mother, Rose Santangelo. She also is survived by her sister, Jo Ann O'Neil of Hammond; and her son, John Pritchett, and two granddaughters, Chelsea and Baylea Pritchett, all of Brusly.

LeAnne Weill of Baton Rouge, one of Mari Ann Fowler's close friends and an ad agency owner, is helping with the arrangements.

"Mari Ann's friends, every Christmas Eve, would go to lunch, then drive over the bridge to that Subway to take flowers and have a moment when we remembered Mari Ann," Weill said. "We would take photographs and send them to Jerry. It was a way to let Mari Ann know we loved her."

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that any planned memorials be donations to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis. Mari Ann Fowler once served as a regional fundraising chairwoman for the hospital, which was her favorite charity, Jerry Fowler said.
 

20050525: Convicted serial killer's appeal now under way LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The way has been cleared for serial killing suspect Derrick Todd Lee to appeal a murder conviction and death sentence for the killing of a Baton Rouge woman — one in a series of slayings that authorities have pegged to Lee.

A hearing scheduled for today to determine the status of Lee's appeal was canceled. At issue was whether defense attorney Marcia Widder has formally filed notice to take the case to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Widder had said verbal notification was given in December when Lee was formally sentenced to death, but she filed a written notice last week. State law mandates an automatic high court review of any death sentence case.

Lee, 36, of St. Francisville, was convicted Oct. 12 of first-degree murder in the May 31, 2002, death of former Louisiana State University student Charlotte Murray Pace, a Jackson, Miss., native, in her home. Two days later, the jury ordered the death penalty.

Lee also is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder in the Jan. 14, 2002, killing of Geralyn DeSoto of Addis. In addition, Lee has been booked on first-degree murder counts in the deaths of five other women in southern Louisiana, and the attempted murder and attempted rape of a Breaux Bridge woman.

 

20050111: Serial killer won't be prosecuted in Lafayette woman's death LA Lafayette Serial Killer News

Derrick Todd Lee already faces execution for Baton Rouge killing; Trineisha Dene Colomb's family supports decision not to bring him to trial here.

Convicted serial killer Derrick Todd Lee will not be prosecuted in Lafayette for the death of Trineisha Dene Colomb.

Assistant District Attorney Bill Babin and Colomb family members announced the decision this morning.

Lee has already been sentenced to life in prison for a murder in West Baton Rouge Parish and was sentenced to die for an East Baton Rouge murder. Authorities have linked him to the deaths of at least seven women.

Evidence in Colomb’s death in fall 2002 was presented during Lee’s first-degree murder trial in East Baton Rouge, Babin said. That, plus the wishes of the Colomb family, led District Attorney Mike Harson to decide to file for dismissal of the case, he said.

But Louisiana law allows Harson to reinstate prosecution of Lee in Lafayette at a later date, Babin said.

“When he got the death penalty, I figured we had enough,” said Sterling Colomb Sr., Trineisha Dene Colomb’s father.

 

20041229: Accused serial killer's lawyer questions post-trial reports LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Lawyers for Derrick Todd Lee have questioned the accuracy of reports a state judge used to sentence the convicted killer to death...Defense lawyer Mike Mitchell contends the capital sentencing report to Judge Richard Anderson "mischaracterizes" the testimony of three witnesses and inaccurately depicts other aspects of the trial. Mitchell also seeks to throw out a statement Lee made about the slaying of Charlotte Murray Pace of Baton Rouge, saying it violates his "privilege against self-incrimination."..Mitchell's objections, filed recently in state District Court in Baton Rouge, do not disclose the content of Lee's statement...Prosecutor Dana Cummings said the reports were accurate...The confidential reports are used by the judge to determine the punishment after a conviction. They generally contain information about a defendant's criminal history, mental condition and other issues that might have played a factor in the crime...Anderson sentenced Lee to die by lethal injection earlier this month after a jury convicted him in October of first-degree murder in Pace's slaying. Lee, 36, of St. Francisville, also was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of Geralyn Barr DeSoto of Addis...Authorities have linked Lee to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003 by DNA evidence, and prosecutors in the Pace trial used evidence from several other killings...Besides Pace, DeSoto and Colomb, police say Lee murdered Gina Green, Pam Kinamore, Carrie Yoder and Randi Mebruer, all in the Baton Rouge area. Lee also is accused in the attempted rape and attempted murder of Diane Alexander, who testified in both the DeSoto and Pace trials... .
 

20041101: Suits seeks DNA taken destroyed LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
DNA samples taken from nearly two dozen men during the hunt for the South Louisiana serial killer, should be destroyed according to a new lawsuit in Federal Court in Baton Rouge...The complaint, filed yesterday, further asks to declare unconstitutional a Louisiana law, allowing to take DNA samples from criminals arrested but not yet convicted in sexual and violent assaults...The samples have been taken during the 10-month investigation in the homicides of seven Louisiana women and one rape from September 2001 to March 2003. Meantime Derrick Todd LEE was convicted for one of that murders on Charlotte Murray PACE, the jury seeks death penalty. Before there was already a conviction to for the slaying of Geralyn Barr DeSoto...The complaint states, that the DNA samples will be stored in government databases and may be used in other criminal investigations. There was lack of probable case or warrants to keep the DNA.
 

20041015: Jury gives death sentence to suspected serial killer LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Louisiana panel deliberates about 11/2 hours after experts disagree on man's mental state...A jury took about 90 minutes Thursday night to decide on the death penalty for twice-convicted killer Derrick Todd Lee...As he was being taken from the courtroom, Lee shouted, "They don't wanna tell them about the DNA they took eight times."..Members of his victim's family gasped and then cried and hugged one another...Jurors earlier in the day heard conflicting testimony from defense and prosecution witnesses on Lee's mental condition. A 2002 Supreme Court decision forbids the execution of the mentally retarded...Lee, 35, has been linked by DNA evidence to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003. The same jury that convicted him Tuesday of first-degree murder in the stabbing and beating death of Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, Baton Rouge, decided Thursday that he should die...In closing arguments, prosecutor John Sinquefield urged the jury to give Lee the death penalty, saying he was a "serial killer trying to hide behind a claim of mental retardation to escape the punishment he so richly deserves."..Lee's lawyer, Bruce Unangst, pleaded for his client's life: "I don't know what kind of evil must have descended upon that man to produce what you saw in those pictures. I do not understand that evil. I do not fathom that evil. But that evil is not defeated by sticking a needle in an arm."..Lee already faces a life sentence for his August conviction in the slaying of Geralyn DeSoto in West Baton Rouge Parish...Drew Gouvier, a Louisiana State University psychology professor, testified for the defense during the penalty phase..."All of the requirements for mental retardation are met for Mr. Lee, pretty much without question," he said...Gouvier said Lee scored 65 on an IQ test, below the 70 deemed the threshold for mental retardation. That test -- combined with his problems understanding language, coping with situations and making plans -- showed Lee is mildly retarded, Gouvier said...Sarah Deland, a university psychiatrist, agreed that Lee is retarded. She said Lee told her he paid someone to take the test for his commercial truck driver's license and failed the renewal test when he had to take it himself...But after Deland also said Lee couldn't meet the qualifications to become a pipefitter, prosecutors brought in two men who said Lee worked capably for a construction firm in that job...Prosecutors also called a psychologist, who said, "It's very clear this man is not mentally retarded."..
 

20041013: Serial killer suspect is found guilty in slaying LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A jury took 80 minutes to find a serial-killings suspect guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in the death of a 22-year-old Baton Rouge woman...Jurors will begin hearing testimony today to determine whether Derrick Lee, 35, already sentenced to life in prison for another killing, should be executed for the slaying of Charlotte Pace in May 2002...Prosecutors took eight days to present their case, which included gruesome crime scene photos and evidence from Pace's killing and four other deaths authorities have attributed to Lee. DNA evidence was used to connect Lee to the Pace slaying...Lee's lawyers declined to call any witnesses, saying the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt...Authorities arrested Lee in May 2003 following a 10-month investigation that included taking DNA samples from more than 2,500 men in southern Louisiana. Using DNA evidence, police eventually linked Lee, a former truck driver, to the slayings of seven women from 1998 to 2003...For Lee to be executed, the jury will have to vote unanimously for the death penalty. Complicating the issue will be a defense claim that Lee is mentally retarded and cannot be legally executed...
 

20041012: Serial killings suspect guilty in second trial LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A jury found serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in the death of Charlotte Murray Pace of Baton Rouge. ..The same jury begins deliberations Wednesday on whether Lee, already sentenced to life for another killing, should be executed for Pace’s death. ..The jury took only an hour and 20 minutes to reach its decision. Lee sat stonefaced after the verdict was read. Pace’s mother, Ann Pace, began shaking once the verdict was read, then began crying. ..Prosecutors took eight days to present their case, including gruesome crime scene photos and evidence not only from Pace’s May 2002 murder, but also from four other killings authorities have attributed to Lee. A survivor of one attack pointed to Lee as her killer and crime lab experts said DNA evidence matched Lee to the crimes. ..Defense lawyers declined to call a witness, saying the survivor’s memory and the DNA evidence were unreliable. .
 

20041008: Serial killer jury hears more about nurse's death LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A nurse who prosecutors contend was one of the victims of serial-killing suspect Derrick Todd Lee was strangled with her murderer’s bare hands as she struggled to free herself from his grip, a pathologist testified Friday. ..Gina Green, 41, had bruises on her knuckles and hand as through she was hitting her attacker, LSU pathologist Alfredo Suarez testified during Lee’s capital murder trial. She also had been raped, Suarez said. ..Green was strangled in her home in September 2001, left murdered in her bed, her neck covered in bruises and scratches and the sheets placed up to her chest while the TV continued playing in the living room. ..“It takes a lot of pressure to cause that much hemorrhage, and it indicates to me that the victim was moving around pretty good,” Suarez said. ..Already facing a life sentence for an earlier second-degree murder conviction, Lee, 35, is on trial for first-degree murder in the rape and killing of Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, who was beaten and stabbed in May 2002, her throat slit and her body riddled with more than 80 stab and puncture wounds. ..Authorities say DNA evidence links him to the deaths of seven women, including Trineisha Dene Colomb of Lafayette, from 1998 to 2003. Prosecutors are using evidence from five of the killings in the Pace trial. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted in Pace’s murder. ..Lee’s lawyers, seeking to move past days of scientific testimony linking Lee to the murders by DNA, suggested Thursday there is little to tie Lee to the killings and evidence that points away from him — including witnesses who repeatedly talked of a white man driving a white pickup truck, not a black man like Lee whose vehicles didn’t fit that description. ..“Is it fair to say, Det. Colter, that the murders of women in Baton Rouge did not stop with the arrest of Derrick Todd Lee?” defense attorney Bruce Unangst asked John Colter, a Baton Rouge police officer who was the lead detective in the investigations of two murders attributed to Lee. ..“It’s fair to say, yes,” Colter replied during his testimony Thursday.
 

20041005: Expert says DNA links Lee strongly to Pace homicide LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A state police expert said Tuesday that DNA she collected at a bloody Baton Rouge murder scene matched that of serial killing suspect Derrick Todd Lee, testifying that there is only a one in 3.6 quadrillion probability of the DNA matching any randomly selected person. ..It was the second day of Lee’s latest murder trial and testimony alternated between dry statistical information and emotional testimony including gruesome crime scene details. ..Already facing a life sentence for an earlier conviction, Lee, 35, is on trial now for first-degree murder in the rape, beating and stabbing of Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, who was found dead in May 2002. Lee has been linked by DNA to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003. ..State police DNA expert Julia Naylor’s testimony linking Lee to Pace came under immediate attack from the defense lawyers who sought, unsuccessfully, to block the one in 3.6 quadrillion statistic. ..Naylor acknowledged under cross examination that the state police crime lab was not accredited at the time she collected saliva and semen samples at the Pace murder scene. ..“Mistakes are made in the lab some time?” Mike Mitchell, Lee’s public defender, asked. ..“I’m sure they are,” Naylor replied. .Naylor said she did not know the unit’s error rate. ..Later, Mitchell asked Naylor: “Isn’t it fair to say that your results are as good as your computer?” ..“Up to a point,” Naylor replied. ..“So five years from now we may have a better computer with more accurate results,” Mitchell said. ..Also Tuesday, a police officer said that Pace had been so brutally attacked that watching a physical examination of the body for evidence made her sick. ..“That body had been so violated,” Baton Rouge Police Officer Pam Young said. ..Pace had 81 stab and puncture wounds, her throat was slit and her head was beaten with an iron, according to prosecutors, who entered the base of the iron as evidence in the case Tuesday after a police officer said it looked as though it was stained with blood.
 

20041004: Testimony Begins in Lee Murder Trial LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The death penalty case against accused serial killer Derrick Todd Lee starts Monday. ..Lee is charged with first-degree murder in the beating and stabbing death of 22-year-old Jackson native Murray Pace. She was found raped and murdered in May of 2002, with 81 stab and puncture wounds on her body. She was a graduate student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge at the time. ..Lee has already been sentenced to life in prison for the second-degree murder of Geralyn Desoto. ..Lee's lawyers are appealing that conviction. Jurors will be sequestered until a verdict is reached. .
 

20040930: Jury should be seated soon in alleged serial killer's trial LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Twelve jurors, including a high school basketball coach, a union leader and a woman who said she thought Derrick Todd Lee looked like "a nice man," were chosen Wednesday to try Lee for the first-degree murder of Charlotte Murray Pace. ..But the defense and prosecution fell short of selecting the four alternates needed, meaning jury selection, which started 2 ½ weeks ago, will last at least one more day and that opening statements likely won't begin until Monday. .."We've still got more work to do," lead East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutor John Sinquefield said shortly after picking the jury, which consists of five white men, five white women, a black man and a black woman. ..But both he and lead defense attorney Mike Mitchell appeared pleased to have selected the jury that will decide Lee's fate and, possibly, if he should live or die for his alleged crimes. .."Under the circumstances, I think it's the best jury we could get," said Mitchell, who had asked the trial be moved to another parish in order to find jurors untainted by news coverage of Lee's seven alleged killings, including the rape and murder of Pace, 22, in May 2002. .."And I hope we picked a jury that's going to be fair and impartial and put aside their feelings as they said they probably would," he said. ...No holds barred ..Often compared to a chess match, jury selection in this case has been more like a "back-alley fight," Sinquefield said Wednesday. Since it began Sept. 13, attorneys have questioned 121 people, one by one, about everything from their opinions on the death penalty to their knowledge of mental retardation. ..Both issues loom large in a trial in which Lee, who's already serving a life sentence for one murder, would face the death penalty if convicted by a 12-0 jury vote. If it comes to that, Lee's attorneys are expected to argue that he is mentally retarded in an attempt to save his life. ..It's an argument that's roughly two weeks away, according to the judge's prediction for how long the trial will last. But to get a feel for what prospective jurors thought about the case, attorneys grilled them for answers now and argued with each other before finally settling on the 12 jurors chosen Wednesday. ..Many of the 12 already knew of Lee's murder conviction in West Baton Rouge Parish. A few said they thought he was guilty. But those jurors said they thought they could put their opinions aside and judge Lee only on the evidence presented in court. Others said they had no opinion whatsoever. ..The jurors include a 46-year-old graduate student and mother of three who said she knew "very little about the case"; a union steward who said he could follow the law; a receptionist; a Wal-Mart meat market worker; a Home Depot employee; a man who runs a painting and drywall business; and a 39-year-old accountant and mother of two who looked at Lee and said, "He actually looks like a nice man." ...Matter of life and death ..Some of those selected lean in favor of the death penalty. One of the two black jurors, a 27-year-old computer enthusiast, said, "If someone commits the cruelest crime, they should get the cruelest punishment." A high school boys basketball coach said he could vote for the death penalty if the defendant got a fair trial. And a few jurors said they thought the death penalty was an unfortunate but necessary punishment. ..Others seemed to lean against it. A 63-year-old woman told the prosecution that, in theory, people don't have the right to take a life. But she said she could vote for it, as did a mental health worker who initially said she did not agree with the death penalty. ..The mental health worker, who said she considered herself politically liberal, added that she thought life in prison may even be worse than death. But she also said that she's the sort of person who holds people responsible for their actions -- even those with mental problems. ..The prosecution didn't remove her from the jury pool, even when they had a chance to do so Wednesday with one of the 12 strikes each side was allotted from the start. ..Prosecutors also opted to keep a 60-year-old nutrition specialist who talked at length about her ex-husband's struggles with bipolar disorder, a mental problem in Lee's family history that also is expected to come up if the trial reaches the penalty phase. More than any other person who made the panel of 12, she gave prosecutors pause. Sinquefield even asked to speak with her a second time during jury selection last week. .."I have to be careful," he told the woman, telling her that it takes only one juror to save Lee's life and that he didn't want to "be defeated before the trial starts." He asked her once more if she could vote for death in a case where Lee's mental state may take center stage, given her personal experiences. ..The woman considered the question and answered, "Definitely." ..
 

20040922: Serial killer victim's family remembers LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Today is about Gina. But so was yesterday, and the day before and the day before that...For the family of Gina Wilson Green, the first victim linked to a Baton Rouge serial killer who targeted seven young women, if it's possible to think about Gina more than they already do, today will be the day...Sept. 23, 2004, marks the three-year anniversary of Gina's death..."She's missed just as much today as she was three years ago," said Gina's mother Margaret Wilson of Natchez. "Memories flood me though. I just picked up my mail and there's cards."..Wilson's thoughts instantly go to her daughter's smile.."It just sparkles," Wilson said of Gina's smile. "She was a beauty. She was extra."..When Wilson thinks of Gina's work as a nurse, she remembers the long hours with very few days off. "She was a loving, giving person in her life, and it was all about helping others." On those days off Wilson said Gina was a "free bird.".."She was such a fun loving, yet serious person," she said. "She was my rock."..It's the loss of that rock, the middle child, that makes Wilson think she has a new family role..."I'm going to light a candle, take some time out and say special prayers for her and try to keep my strength up for the ones that's she's left behind."..Sheree Bryant, Gina's older sister, has a full day ahead of her. After a normal day of work Bryant will travel out of town with her daughter for a school trip. Being busy is something Bryant hopes will help her make it through the day...But lunch is for Gina..."I'm just going to sit out there (at Gina's gravesite) on my lunch hour," Bryant said...Bryant knows her thoughts are going to wander to a bad place today. "What she went through, the fear of knowing someone's going to kill you, that's what's on my mind tomorrow," Bryant said Wednesday. "I know that she's in a better place than we are though. It's just hard. I miss her. I just hurt so bad."..Gina, 41, was found strangled in her Baton Rouge home on Sept. 24, 2001, after she did not show up to work...And though today is about Gina, it's also about Derrick Todd Lee, who is the suspect in Gina's murder and six others. "Why did he pick her? Why did he pick the ones that had everything in front of them?" Wilson said. "Those are questions we would like answered."..Wilson and her family have been closely following Lee's trials. Jury selection in the first-degree murder case of Charlotte Murray Pace is under way. Tuesday Lee's lawyer presented preliminary findings from a mental health expert to show that Lee is mentally retarded. If Lee is declared mentally retarded he will be ineligible for the death penalty, something Wilson said she doesn't want to see happen..."That's strange that he was able to hold a job and maneuver himself in and out of jail all those times," Wilson said. "This needs to be over. Let's get it over with. There are too many families that are involved here."..Bryant said she is confident that Lee's days are numbered..."Everybody just keep us in their prayers," Bryant asked...For the family, tomorrow is about Gina, and the day after and the day after that.. .
 

20040816: Life for murder of Geralyn DeSoto LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A Louisiana judge Monday sentenced suspected serial killer Derrick Todd LEE to life in prison without parole for the murder of a Baton Rouge woman. . .LEE was convicted of second-degree murder last week in the slaying of Geralyn DeSoto, a Louisiana State University graduate student. He made no comment when he was sentenced...Police say DNA evidence has linked LEE to the deaths of seven women in south Louisiana between April 1998 and March 2003...LEE was tried for the first time in the DeSoto case. He faces trial next month on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of Charlotte Murray Pace. If convicted, he would face the death penalty in that case. He has pleaded innocent....
 

20040806: Surviving victim identifies LEE as attacker LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Diane Alexander was the first witness after opening statements Thursday in the first trial against Lee, who was arrested last year and linked by DNA evidence to seven women's deaths, according to police...In testimony accompanied by pictures of wounds she suffered in a July 2002 attack, Alexander pointed to Lee, identifying him as her attacker...Lee, 35, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Geralyn DeSoto, 21, found in a pool of her own blood in the West Baton Rouge Parish town of Addis in January 2002. If convicted he will be sentenced to life in prison. He also faces at least three other trials — two death penalty cases in other murders, and the attempted rape-murder of Alexander...Prosecutors are being allowed to use evidence from one of the other murders and the Alexander case in the trial for DeSoto's murder...In his opening statement, prosecutor Tony Clayton detailed the bloody DeSoto crime scene, saying she had been stabbed in the back and the side and that her throat had been slashed...Clayton said experts will testify that 99.6 percent of the population cannot match the DNA found under DeSoto's fingernails; the other .4 percent could only be males in Lee's family, because Lee has "peculiar markings" that are rarely seen in DNA...There was no evidence that anyone else killed DeSoto, Clayton added, anticipating a defense argument that DeSoto's husband might have had something to do with her death...Testimony alleging that Darren DeSoto abused his wife is likely, Clayton said, but he added: "Darren didn't kill his wife. West Baton Rouge Parish Police investigated Darren up one side and down the other."..Thompson said while DeSoto's death was a tragedy, he wanted to make sure jurors did not make a mistake and "create another tragedy."
 

20040804: Victim´s husband describes murder scene LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Describing a grisly scene, the husband of a West Baton Rouge Parish woman who authorities say was murdered by serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee said Friday that he found his wife in a pool of blood and initially wasn't able to determine what happened to her...Darren DeSoto, husband of Geralyn DeSoto, said he arrived at their mobile home on Jan. 14, 2002, and saw a shotgun on the bed next to his wife's body. He said he didn't know if his wife had committed suicide or if there was some sort of accident, so he paced around the house..."I noticed her face was swollen and bruised. I turned her head a little bit and at that moment I saw her throat was cut wide open," DeSoto said...The testimony came in the first of four trials against Lee, who was arrested last year and linked by DNA evidence to seven women's deaths, according to police...Lee, 35, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Geralyn DeSOTO. If convicted, Lee will be sentenced to life in prison. He also faces at least three other trials - two death penalty cases in other murders, and an attempted rape-murder. ..In court documents, defense attorney Tommy Thompson said he intended to present a defense that someone other than Lee murdered DeSoto, 21, possibly even her husband, who was cleared by police after being considered a suspect...Earlier Friday, John Martin, a security manager for BellSouth, provided a document that listed the calls made from the victim's home on the day she was murdered...Prosecutor Tony Clayton argued in his opening statement Thursday that DeSoto disconnected her online connection to allow Lee to make a telephone call. Clayton contends when DeSoto went to get the phone back, Lee forced his way into the mobile home, where he killed DeSoto...Lee's second trial, for the killing of Charlotte Murray Pace, is scheduled to begin Sept.13 in Baton Rouge and his third trial, for the attack, is set for Nov. 3. No date has been set in the Lafayette murder case...Besides DeSoto, authorities say Lee, of St. Francisville, has been linked by DNA evidence to the deaths of Pace, Gina Wilson Green, Pam Kinamore, Trineisha Dene Colomb, Carrie Yoder and Randi Mebruer.
 

20040802: First trial opened LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Today jury selection begins in Port Allen, where serial killer suspect Derrick Todd LEE faces his first trial the stabbing death of Geralyn DeSOTO (21). She was found by her husband with slashed throat in Addis in January 2002...LEE has pleaded innocent in the case. The judge has said 500 people have received subpoenas for jury duty. The trial is expected to last about three weeks...Besides DeSOTO, authorities say Lee has been linked by D-N-A to the deaths of Gina Wilson GREEN, Charlotte Murray PACE, Pam KINAMORE, Trineisha Dene COLOMB, Carrie Lynn YODER and Randi MEBRUER.
 

20040613: Search for Serial Killer Victim LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Deep, gooey muck is making it nearly impossible for searchers to get to what sonar scans indicated might be human bones in a pond near the home of serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee...Zachary Police Chief Joey Watson says the ground is like quicksand... After draining the pond, which took most of last week, investigators had hoped to rake out the mud Sunday, but wound up sending for a backhoe. Scattered showers and thunderstorms also threatened the work, with heavy rain expected Monday... Police say DNA links Lee to the murders of seven women between April 1998 and March 2003, including that of 28-year-old Randi Mebruer. Her body has never been found, but police said evidence at her home indicates that she could not have survived... Lee has been charged with three of the murders and with an attack on a Breaux Bridge woman, who survived. He has pleaded innocent... Attention turned to the borrow pit in West Feliciana Parish after police learned Lee had often fished there... In addition to Mebruer, West Feliciana Parish deputies are looking for Glenn ``Diddy'' Tankersly, who disappeared in December of 2002 from the nearby Elm Park community.
 

20040505: Serial Killer Trial Delayed LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The Louisiana Supreme Court has agreed to delay the first trial of serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee. Lee's trial had been scheduled to start Monday, but his lawyers filed a motion to have it postponed. The supreme court approved a continuance motion Wednesday.
 

20040412: Representation assigned LA Lafayette Serial Killer News
New Iberia attorney Glenda HUDDLESTON represents accused serial killer Derrick Todd LEE on charges he faces in connection with an attack of a Breaux Bridge woman in July 2002.
Investigators say LEE has been linked by DNA evidence to the killings of seven south Louisiana women. In the St. Martin Parish case, he is set for trial July 6 on charges of attempted rape and attempted murder.
Prosecutors said that LEE attacked a woman at her home but was scared away when her son returned from school. The woman has positively identified LEE as her attacker. DNA pulled from sweat stains left on the woman’s dress has not been definitively linked to LEE, but investigators also said that the DNA evidence does not exclude him.
HUDDLESTON is a contract attorney for the public defenders office, which represents defendants who cannot afford legal counsel.
Two key issues in pre-trial hearings have been whether she has had enough time prepare and whether her office has enough money to fund expert witnesses to help defend LEE.
 

20040402: August trial date set for serial killer suspect Lee LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Derrick Todd LEE, suspected in the deaths of seven south Louisiana women, will stand trial in August on second-degree murder charges in West Baton Rouge Parish, a judge decided Thursday.
State District Judge Robin Free set an Aug. 2 trial date for Lee in the killing of Geralyn DeSOTO, an LSU student from Addis.
LEE has two other trial dates scheduled before the DeSoto case — one set for May 10 in the Baton Rouge killing of Charlotte Murray PACE and another set for July 6 in the attempted rape and attempted killing of Diane ALEXANDER of Breaux Bridge.
LEE is accused of stabbing and beating DeSoto to death in her home on Jan. 14, 2002.
Attorneys for LEE asked Free to give them a year to prepare for LEE’s trial, but Free gave them until August — and a warning he would not allow the defense to stall the case. The judge said DeSoto’s family had a right to a speedy trial.
Police say DNA evidence linked LEE to the slayings of seven women between April 1998 and March 2003 and the attack in Breaux Bridge. LEE, 35, has been indicted in three killings and is charged in the attack. He has pleaded not guilty.
 

20040331: Prosecutors Win Big in Serial Killer Case GA Atlanta Serial Killer News
Prosecutors in the first murder trial against accused serial killer Derrick Todd LEE can use evidence from other alleged crimes, including the testimony of a woman who said LEE tried to rape and kill her, effectively making the trial "a serial prosecution".
State District Judge Richard Anderson ruled today against Lee's lawyers who had sought to limit the scope of the evidence in the first-degree murder case in the killing of Charlotte Murray PACE.
Anderson dealt a second blow to LEE's defenders, refusing to postpone the trial after LEE's public defender Mike Mitchell said a molecular biologist and social worker who were working on LEE's defense won't have adequate time to prepare for the May 10th start date.
Police say DNA evidence links LEE to the murders of seven women between April 1998 and March 2003 and the attack on Diane ALEXANDER, a Breaux Bridge nurse.
 

20030527: Suspect arrested GA Atlanta Serial Killer News
Derrick Todd LEE, 34, has a criminal record that includes a two-year prison term for burglary and a history of stalking and "peeping Tom" incidents. When Lee swabbed in connection to the Randi MEBRUER disappearance, he lived in St. Francisville with his wife and two children -- a 13-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. School officials say Lee and his wife pulled their kids out of school soon after he submitted the DNA sample.
The family first fled to Chicago, then Atlanta -- where Lee was arrested May 27, 2003. Police say his wife and children are safe, but in hiding.
 

20040302: 3 Murders with Similarities LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News

Finding similarities in 3 homicides, police suspects a second serial killer in the Baton Rouge area:

Katherine HALL (29), found January 1999
Johnnie Mae WILLIAMS (45), found October 2003
Donna Bennett JOHNSTON (43), found February 2004

All three victims have been strangled, were drug-addicted, frequented high risk areas, WILLIAMS and JOHNSTON worked as prostitutes.

 

20030313: 5th Victim Carrie Lynn YODER found dead LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News

Carrie Lynn YODER was abducted the day before Mardi Gras from her home on Dodson Avenue near the LSU campus. Her boyfriend was the last to talk to her -- they spoke before she went to the grocery store. The groceries were found inside her home.

Yoder's body was found March 13th in a marshy area in the Atchafalaya River Basin near the Whiskey Bay exit off Interstate 10. That's the same area Pam Kinamore's body was found. Yoder died of asphyxiation caused by strangulation. She was also beaten by the killer.

Yoder was a 26-year old from Florida. She was attending LSU, studying biological sciences as a grad student.

 

20021224: 4th victim linked to BATON ROUGE Serial Killer LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
DNA evidence from the three other victims of a suspected serial killer could be definitely linked to another woman´s body, found dead November 24, 2002 in a wooden area of Scott.
Trineisha Dené Colomb (22), a Lafayette woman, was reported missing November 22, when her car was found abandoned in Grand Coteau.
As with the other cases, there were no signs of forced entry into Colomb´s car. According to authorities Colomb died from blunt trauma to the head.
A witness recalled seeing an early 1990 model, white, step-side Chevrolet pickup truck parked behind Colomb´s car on the afternoon of November 21. This description closely matches a vehicle description in the investigation into the death of Pam Kinamore, the last known victim of the serial killer.
 

20021119: Press Conference with new Information LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News

Police informed public, referring to yet unpublished details of their investigation, that the three victims have been sexually abused.
Investigators further confirmed, that belongings of victim GREEN have been discovered in the Ready-Portion Meat Company in Baton Rouge, Choctaw Drive...

 

20070905: State Supreme Court hears appeal in serial killer case LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The Louisiana Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday over whether convicted serial killer Derrick Todd Lee received a fair trial in 2004, when an East Baton Rouge jury sentenced him to die by lethal injection for the rape and murder of Charlotte Murray Pace.

Lee remains on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He is also serving a life sentence for the murder of Geralyn Barr DeSoto of West Baton Rouge Parish. Prosecutors say Lee is linked to the murders of seven women between 1998 and 2003.

The justices did not indicate when they will rule.

On Wednesday, family members of two victims listened to the lengthy arguments at the courthouse in the French Quarter and later said Lee got exactly what he deserved - including a fair trial.

"Put him to death," said Lynne Marino, the mother of the slain Pam Kinamore, one of four additional victims prosecutors linked to Lee during the Pace trial. "He deserves to die. He got more than a fair trial. DNA convicts and DNA exonerates."

Ann Pace, the mother of Charlotte Pace, attended the hearing with her daughter Sam Pace. It was only the first of many likely appeals of Lee's death sentence, they acknowledged.

"Law is not the same as justice," said Ann Pace, outside the courthouse.

Lee's defense team, the Capital Appeals Project, argued that their client is mentally retarded and therefore legally exempt from the death penalty. They also said his trial should never have been held in Baton Rouge, where fear ran rampant before investigators finally nabbed the killer who preyed on women in their own homes.

"It was a perfect storm of prejudice in the fall of 2004," said Marcia Widder, who argued Lee's appeal before the justices.
 

20070713: Serial Killer Victim Remembered LA Lafayette Serial Killer News
The family of one of the women linked to convicted serial killer Derrick Todd Lee is remembering the young woman, on the anniversary of the day she went missing, back in 2002.

A homemade cross marks the exact spot where Pam Kinamore's body was found, five years ago.

Thursday afternoon, Kinamore's mother and brother went back to that place near the Atchafalaya River.

DNA evidence linked Lee to Kinamore during the trial.

Kinamore's mother, Lynne Marino, says its still hard to let go.

Meanwhile, Derrick Todd Lee, who's on death row at Angola, has filed a request for an administrative remedy.

Lee says in the affidavit that he's in painful conditions.

He also says he doesn't like the camera that's been placed in his cell, nor does he like to be in the black box handcuffs whenever he's not in his cell.

 

20070108: Appeals court blasts order for DNA swab during serial killer hunt LA New Orleans Serial Killer News
A state judge improperly allowed police to obtain the DNA of an innocent man as they hunted for a south Louisiana serial killer, a federal appeals court has decided. In a strongly worded 16-page decision, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans concludes state District Judge Richard Anderson lacked sufficient evidence to sign off on a search warrant for Shannon Kohler's DNA. Kohler, a 47-year-old welder, was among 1,200 south Louisiana men given oral saliva swabs to eliminate them as suspects in the slayings of seven women over the past decade. He was one of the few men identified in the media as a suspect who would not cooperate with authorities after he initially refused the swab. He cited, among other things, the fact that his foot is three to four sizes larger than a print found at one of the crime scenes. Derrick Todd Lee has been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in one of the slayings and convicted of second-degree murder in another. Lee also is accused of killing five other women. The ruling, issued last week, comes in a civil lawsuit Kohler filed three years ago in Baton Rouge federal court. The suit seeks damages, the return of Kohler's DNA and the "obliteration" of records connecting him to the serial-killer investigation. U.S. District Judge James Brady tossed his claim last year, ruling there was probable cause for the warrant. The 5th Circuit decision means the case now will move toward trial. Appellate Judge Emilio M. Garza wrote that Baton Rouge police Detective Christopher Johnson's affidavit seeking a warrant "failed to provide a nexus between Kohler's DNA and the serial killings." Law enforcement officers seeking a search warrant must provide an affidavit containing facts of the case so a judge can determine whether there is probable cause that the items sought are evidence of a crime. Johnson's affidavit cited anonymous tips from two people naming Kohler as "a possible person who needed to be checked." It also cited Kohler's 20-year-old burglary conviction, but failed to mention he had been pardoned in 1996. The affidavit also pointed to Kohler's unemployment at the time of the investigation and previous work as a welder for a company that had a secondary shop on the road where a victim's cell phone was found. Garza writes that an anonymous tip alone "is rarely sufficient" evidence to issue a warrant. The judges said "neither the 20-year-old burglary conviction nor Kohler's employment status would lead a prudent person to believe that Kohler was responsible for three rape-murders." Assistant City-Parish Attorney James Hilburn has argued probable cause for the search warrant is established if the affidavit is considered in conjunction with an FBI profile that identified behaviors and personality traits of the perpetrator. Kohler matched two of the traits: Employment in a job that required physical strength and financial insecurity due to employment. However, the profile wasn't included with the search-warrant application. But Garza writes that even if the profile is taken into account, it "adds little, if anything, to the probable cause analysis in this case." "These two traits are so generalized in nature that hundreds, if not thousands, of men in the Baton Rouge area could have possessed them, and they are, therefore, insufficient to warrant the belief that Kohler was the serial killer."
 

20060402: Serial killer book tries to fill in blanks LA Lafayette Serial Killer News

I’VE BEEN WATCHING YOU: THE SOUTH LOUISIANA SERIAL KILLER

In Baton Rouge, in the early 2000s, the murders of beautiful, white, affluent women were making headlines. On television and in newspapers, barely a day went by without a mention of the search for the man responsible.

In grocery stores and family gatherings, the conversation was the same: Who was responsible? How was the killer finding his victims? Why were women letting him in their homes? How did he get away without being noticed?

I’ve Been Watching You: The South Louisiana Serial Killer,  purports to answer these questions while telling the story of the victims and the man ultimately convicted of two of the murders, Derrick Todd Lee.

Mustafa is the former managing editor of City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge. Clayton is the prosecutor who got a conviction in the second-degree murder trial of Lee in the stabbing death of Geralyn DeSoto, a 21-year-old LSU graduate who lived in Addis. Israel worked as editorial director for City Social and now works for a state agency that is helping to bring Louisiana’s tourism industry back after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

When writing the book, all three relied on their experiences living in the Baton Rouge area during the hunt for the serial killer.

For anyone new to Baton Rouge, I’ve Been Watching You offers a way to become familiar with the terror inflicted on the city by Lee. Lee, a 36-year-old husband and father, now sits on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Besides a life sentence in DeSoto’s death, Lee was convicted in Baton Rouge of the murder of Charlotte Murray Pace, also an LSU graduate. Lee received the death penalty in Pace’s murder.

In all, he has been linked by DNA evidence to the deaths of seven women, six of them white women who lived in the Baton Rouge area, and a black woman who lived in Lafayette.

For a long time during the investigation into the women’s deaths, investigators believed the perpetrator was a white man. I’ve Been Watching You describes how investigators didn’t believe Lee was the killer and failed to take seriously tips to the Multi-Agency Homicide Task Force because Lee was black.

While I’ve Been Watching You is an interesting read, it tends to stray from its claim of being nonfiction.Using the clues left behind during the struggles between Lee and his victims, the authors try to recreate what happened at each of the crime scenes. Prosecutors use that technique when examining the evidence and trying to piece together events to prove their case to a jury.

What is misleading, however, is when the authors present their assumptions as fact. For instance, in the chapter describing DeSoto’s murder, the authors describe their version of how Lee entered her home. They suspect Lee knocked and DeSoto answered without hesitation, but no one knows for sure.

The book provides details about Lee’s life growing up in St. Francisville and an explanation, although speculative, of why he turned to a life of violence. It provides new excerpts from DeSoto’s diary describing the relationship between her and an abusive husband. The book also contains written exchanges between Pace and her mother that pull at the heartstrings. In addition to chapters on each of the victims linked to Lee through DNA evidence, I’ve Been Watching You includes chapters on the deaths of 10 other women whom the authors believe Lee killed.

In the opening chapter describing the murder of Connie Warner, the authors write: “It would be eleven years before her family would get some inkling as to who had committed this despicable act. Eleven years of wondering.

“But someone did know, and after he had dumped Connie’s body by the lake, he felt the satisfaction that comes with power, the power to hold a human life in his hands, the power to make another human being succumb to his whims. He had held the light-skinned woman, had felt her hair, had run his fingers along her cheekbones as she begged for mercy. He had made her his. His appetite had been appeased.”

In this passage and many more, not enough is done to distinguish the facts of the cases from tantalizing details added by the authors for effect. Although a suspect, Lee has never been charged with Warner’s murder. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 washed away all physical evidence from her body.

The book also fails to give credit where credit is due. Becky Chustz, the assistant district attorney who responded to the scene of DeSoto’s murder, worked for months with detectives in West Baton Rouge Parish gathering evidence and preparing the case against Lee. Chustz gets barely a mention. When reading the chapters of I’ve Been Watching You, only someone familiar with court proceedings would know that Clayton did not single-handedly prosecute Lee.  The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office secured the death penalty for Lee.

As for new information about the crimes, the book falls short of its promises. Those who followed the news media closely during the hunt for Lee and his subsequent trials may be disappointed as they make their way through I’ve Been Watching You. Much of the information has already been released to the public, and the book fails to provide much in the way of new insight about this cold-blooded killer.

 

20060222: Serial Killer - Lessons learned LA Lafayette Serial Killer News

The lessons learned from the serial killer case are being passed on to forensic scientists all over the world. At a conference in Seattle Monday, local DNA specialists talked about the new techniques used to catch Derrick Todd Lee.

"What we learned, pitfalls and a lot of new techniques never used before."

DNA scientist George Schiro helped pioneer some of those techniques at the Acadiana Crime Lab.

"We looked at the profile to see if there was information between the lines that could put us in the right direction and give a lead for where the investigation goes."

One unique lead in the serial killer case that came from dna : the killer was 85% African. Once they had a profile, scientists also considered using it to track down a relative of the killer, someone whose dna was similar and was already in the system. One of the pitfalls Schiro mentioned: communications breakdowns. As in so many cases, Lee was looked at by the task force.

"His information slipped through the cracks until the dna match by state police occurred."

The hope is that lessons from the South Louisiana serial killer case will prevent missteps and help solve cases faster in the future.

 

20050820: Fowler memorial service honors presumed victim of serial killer LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Former state Elections Commissioner Jerry Fowler will hold a memorial service next weekend for his wife, Mari Ann, who disappeared Christmas Eve 2002, a presumed victim of serial killer Derrick Todd Lee of St. Francisville.

The service and Mass for Mari Ann Fowler, who was 65 at the time of her disappearance, will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 27 at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, with a ensuing reception at Michabelle Inn and Restaurant.

Jerry Fowler, 65, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 2000, was in the middle of a five-year sentence when Mari Ann Fowler was attacked outside a Subway sandwich shop in Port Allen on her way for a Christmas visit with her husband at the Beaumont, Texas, federal prison.

After his release from a Baton Rouge halfway house June 22, Jerry Fowler began working on a memorial service for his wife, who was declared dead by a state court judge in 2004.

"Nothing had been done, and the family needed some closure," Jerry Fowler said. Authorities believe Lee was her assailant, he said. Her body has not been found.

"She deserves to be honored because she led a good life, was a great education and civic leader and did a lot of good," Jerry Fowler said.

At the time of her disappearance, Mari Ann Fowler was an education consultant. She spent her career as a teacher and worked for 27 years for the state Education Department in various capacities, including assistant state superintendent of education for research and development, and served briefly as the governor's education adviser.

She studied at Southeastern Louisiana University but graduated in English and speech education from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. She held a master's in education supervision from LSU and a doctorate in education administration from Nova Southeast University.

Although Mari Ann Fowler's career was in Baton Rouge, the memorial service is being held in Hammond to accommodate her 90-year-old mother, Rose Santangelo. She also is survived by her sister, Jo Ann O'Neil of Hammond; and her son, John Pritchett, and two granddaughters, Chelsea and Baylea Pritchett, all of Brusly.

LeAnne Weill of Baton Rouge, one of Mari Ann Fowler's close friends and an ad agency owner, is helping with the arrangements.

"Mari Ann's friends, every Christmas Eve, would go to lunch, then drive over the bridge to that Subway to take flowers and have a moment when we remembered Mari Ann," Weill said. "We would take photographs and send them to Jerry. It was a way to let Mari Ann know we loved her."

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that any planned memorials be donations to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis. Mari Ann Fowler once served as a regional fundraising chairwoman for the hospital, which was her favorite charity, Jerry Fowler said.
 

20050525: Convicted serial killer's appeal now under way LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The way has been cleared for serial killing suspect Derrick Todd Lee to appeal a murder conviction and death sentence for the killing of a Baton Rouge woman — one in a series of slayings that authorities have pegged to Lee.

A hearing scheduled for today to determine the status of Lee's appeal was canceled. At issue was whether defense attorney Marcia Widder has formally filed notice to take the case to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Widder had said verbal notification was given in December when Lee was formally sentenced to death, but she filed a written notice last week. State law mandates an automatic high court review of any death sentence case.

Lee, 36, of St. Francisville, was convicted Oct. 12 of first-degree murder in the May 31, 2002, death of former Louisiana State University student Charlotte Murray Pace, a Jackson, Miss., native, in her home. Two days later, the jury ordered the death penalty.

Lee also is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder in the Jan. 14, 2002, killing of Geralyn DeSoto of Addis. In addition, Lee has been booked on first-degree murder counts in the deaths of five other women in southern Louisiana, and the attempted murder and attempted rape of a Breaux Bridge woman.

 

20050111: Serial killer won't be prosecuted in Lafayette woman's death LA Lafayette Serial Killer News

Derrick Todd Lee already faces execution for Baton Rouge killing; Trineisha Dene Colomb's family supports decision not to bring him to trial here.

Convicted serial killer Derrick Todd Lee will not be prosecuted in Lafayette for the death of Trineisha Dene Colomb.

Assistant District Attorney Bill Babin and Colomb family members announced the decision this morning.

Lee has already been sentenced to life in prison for a murder in West Baton Rouge Parish and was sentenced to die for an East Baton Rouge murder. Authorities have linked him to the deaths of at least seven women.

Evidence in Colomb’s death in fall 2002 was presented during Lee’s first-degree murder trial in East Baton Rouge, Babin said. That, plus the wishes of the Colomb family, led District Attorney Mike Harson to decide to file for dismissal of the case, he said.

But Louisiana law allows Harson to reinstate prosecution of Lee in Lafayette at a later date, Babin said.

“When he got the death penalty, I figured we had enough,” said Sterling Colomb Sr., Trineisha Dene Colomb’s father.

 

20041229: Accused serial killer's lawyer questions post-trial reports LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Lawyers for Derrick Todd Lee have questioned the accuracy of reports a state judge used to sentence the convicted killer to death...Defense lawyer Mike Mitchell contends the capital sentencing report to Judge Richard Anderson "mischaracterizes" the testimony of three witnesses and inaccurately depicts other aspects of the trial. Mitchell also seeks to throw out a statement Lee made about the slaying of Charlotte Murray Pace of Baton Rouge, saying it violates his "privilege against self-incrimination."..Mitchell's objections, filed recently in state District Court in Baton Rouge, do not disclose the content of Lee's statement...Prosecutor Dana Cummings said the reports were accurate...The confidential reports are used by the judge to determine the punishment after a conviction. They generally contain information about a defendant's criminal history, mental condition and other issues that might have played a factor in the crime...Anderson sentenced Lee to die by lethal injection earlier this month after a jury convicted him in October of first-degree murder in Pace's slaying. Lee, 36, of St. Francisville, also was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of Geralyn Barr DeSoto of Addis...Authorities have linked Lee to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003 by DNA evidence, and prosecutors in the Pace trial used evidence from several other killings...Besides Pace, DeSoto and Colomb, police say Lee murdered Gina Green, Pam Kinamore, Carrie Yoder and Randi Mebruer, all in the Baton Rouge area. Lee also is accused in the attempted rape and attempted murder of Diane Alexander, who testified in both the DeSoto and Pace trials... .
 

20041101: Suits seeks DNA taken destroyed LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
DNA samples taken from nearly two dozen men during the hunt for the South Louisiana serial killer, should be destroyed according to a new lawsuit in Federal Court in Baton Rouge...The complaint, filed yesterday, further asks to declare unconstitutional a Louisiana law, allowing to take DNA samples from criminals arrested but not yet convicted in sexual and violent assaults...The samples have been taken during the 10-month investigation in the homicides of seven Louisiana women and one rape from September 2001 to March 2003. Meantime Derrick Todd LEE was convicted for one of that murders on Charlotte Murray PACE, the jury seeks death penalty. Before there was already a conviction to for the slaying of Geralyn Barr DeSoto...The complaint states, that the DNA samples will be stored in government databases and may be used in other criminal investigations. There was lack of probable case or warrants to keep the DNA.
 

20041015: Jury gives death sentence to suspected serial killer LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Louisiana panel deliberates about 11/2 hours after experts disagree on man's mental state...A jury took about 90 minutes Thursday night to decide on the death penalty for twice-convicted killer Derrick Todd Lee...As he was being taken from the courtroom, Lee shouted, "They don't wanna tell them about the DNA they took eight times."..Members of his victim's family gasped and then cried and hugged one another...Jurors earlier in the day heard conflicting testimony from defense and prosecution witnesses on Lee's mental condition. A 2002 Supreme Court decision forbids the execution of the mentally retarded...Lee, 35, has been linked by DNA evidence to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003. The same jury that convicted him Tuesday of first-degree murder in the stabbing and beating death of Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, Baton Rouge, decided Thursday that he should die...In closing arguments, prosecutor John Sinquefield urged the jury to give Lee the death penalty, saying he was a "serial killer trying to hide behind a claim of mental retardation to escape the punishment he so richly deserves."..Lee's lawyer, Bruce Unangst, pleaded for his client's life: "I don't know what kind of evil must have descended upon that man to produce what you saw in those pictures. I do not understand that evil. I do not fathom that evil. But that evil is not defeated by sticking a needle in an arm."..Lee already faces a life sentence for his August conviction in the slaying of Geralyn DeSoto in West Baton Rouge Parish...Drew Gouvier, a Louisiana State University psychology professor, testified for the defense during the penalty phase..."All of the requirements for mental retardation are met for Mr. Lee, pretty much without question," he said...Gouvier said Lee scored 65 on an IQ test, below the 70 deemed the threshold for mental retardation. That test -- combined with his problems understanding language, coping with situations and making plans -- showed Lee is mildly retarded, Gouvier said...Sarah Deland, a university psychiatrist, agreed that Lee is retarded. She said Lee told her he paid someone to take the test for his commercial truck driver's license and failed the renewal test when he had to take it himself...But after Deland also said Lee couldn't meet the qualifications to become a pipefitter, prosecutors brought in two men who said Lee worked capably for a construction firm in that job...Prosecutors also called a psychologist, who said, "It's very clear this man is not mentally retarded."..
 

20041013: Serial killer suspect is found guilty in slaying LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A jury took 80 minutes to find a serial-killings suspect guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in the death of a 22-year-old Baton Rouge woman...Jurors will begin hearing testimony today to determine whether Derrick Lee, 35, already sentenced to life in prison for another killing, should be executed for the slaying of Charlotte Pace in May 2002...Prosecutors took eight days to present their case, which included gruesome crime scene photos and evidence from Pace's killing and four other deaths authorities have attributed to Lee. DNA evidence was used to connect Lee to the Pace slaying...Lee's lawyers declined to call any witnesses, saying the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt...Authorities arrested Lee in May 2003 following a 10-month investigation that included taking DNA samples from more than 2,500 men in southern Louisiana. Using DNA evidence, police eventually linked Lee, a former truck driver, to the slayings of seven women from 1998 to 2003...For Lee to be executed, the jury will have to vote unanimously for the death penalty. Complicating the issue will be a defense claim that Lee is mentally retarded and cannot be legally executed...
 

20041012: Serial killings suspect guilty in second trial LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A jury found serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in the death of Charlotte Murray Pace of Baton Rouge. ..The same jury begins deliberations Wednesday on whether Lee, already sentenced to life for another killing, should be executed for Pace’s death. ..The jury took only an hour and 20 minutes to reach its decision. Lee sat stonefaced after the verdict was read. Pace’s mother, Ann Pace, began shaking once the verdict was read, then began crying. ..Prosecutors took eight days to present their case, including gruesome crime scene photos and evidence not only from Pace’s May 2002 murder, but also from four other killings authorities have attributed to Lee. A survivor of one attack pointed to Lee as her killer and crime lab experts said DNA evidence matched Lee to the crimes. ..Defense lawyers declined to call a witness, saying the survivor’s memory and the DNA evidence were unreliable. .
 

20041008: Serial killer jury hears more about nurse's death LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A nurse who prosecutors contend was one of the victims of serial-killing suspect Derrick Todd Lee was strangled with her murderer’s bare hands as she struggled to free herself from his grip, a pathologist testified Friday. ..Gina Green, 41, had bruises on her knuckles and hand as through she was hitting her attacker, LSU pathologist Alfredo Suarez testified during Lee’s capital murder trial. She also had been raped, Suarez said. ..Green was strangled in her home in September 2001, left murdered in her bed, her neck covered in bruises and scratches and the sheets placed up to her chest while the TV continued playing in the living room. ..“It takes a lot of pressure to cause that much hemorrhage, and it indicates to me that the victim was moving around pretty good,” Suarez said. ..Already facing a life sentence for an earlier second-degree murder conviction, Lee, 35, is on trial for first-degree murder in the rape and killing of Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, who was beaten and stabbed in May 2002, her throat slit and her body riddled with more than 80 stab and puncture wounds. ..Authorities say DNA evidence links him to the deaths of seven women, including Trineisha Dene Colomb of Lafayette, from 1998 to 2003. Prosecutors are using evidence from five of the killings in the Pace trial. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted in Pace’s murder. ..Lee’s lawyers, seeking to move past days of scientific testimony linking Lee to the murders by DNA, suggested Thursday there is little to tie Lee to the killings and evidence that points away from him — including witnesses who repeatedly talked of a white man driving a white pickup truck, not a black man like Lee whose vehicles didn’t fit that description. ..“Is it fair to say, Det. Colter, that the murders of women in Baton Rouge did not stop with the arrest of Derrick Todd Lee?” defense attorney Bruce Unangst asked John Colter, a Baton Rouge police officer who was the lead detective in the investigations of two murders attributed to Lee. ..“It’s fair to say, yes,” Colter replied during his testimony Thursday.
 

20041005: Expert says DNA links Lee strongly to Pace homicide LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A state police expert said Tuesday that DNA she collected at a bloody Baton Rouge murder scene matched that of serial killing suspect Derrick Todd Lee, testifying that there is only a one in 3.6 quadrillion probability of the DNA matching any randomly selected person. ..It was the second day of Lee’s latest murder trial and testimony alternated between dry statistical information and emotional testimony including gruesome crime scene details. ..Already facing a life sentence for an earlier conviction, Lee, 35, is on trial now for first-degree murder in the rape, beating and stabbing of Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, who was found dead in May 2002. Lee has been linked by DNA to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003. ..State police DNA expert Julia Naylor’s testimony linking Lee to Pace came under immediate attack from the defense lawyers who sought, unsuccessfully, to block the one in 3.6 quadrillion statistic. ..Naylor acknowledged under cross examination that the state police crime lab was not accredited at the time she collected saliva and semen samples at the Pace murder scene. ..“Mistakes are made in the lab some time?” Mike Mitchell, Lee’s public defender, asked. ..“I’m sure they are,” Naylor replied. .Naylor said she did not know the unit’s error rate. ..Later, Mitchell asked Naylor: “Isn’t it fair to say that your results are as good as your computer?” ..“Up to a point,” Naylor replied. ..“So five years from now we may have a better computer with more accurate results,” Mitchell said. ..Also Tuesday, a police officer said that Pace had been so brutally attacked that watching a physical examination of the body for evidence made her sick. ..“That body had been so violated,” Baton Rouge Police Officer Pam Young said. ..Pace had 81 stab and puncture wounds, her throat was slit and her head was beaten with an iron, according to prosecutors, who entered the base of the iron as evidence in the case Tuesday after a police officer said it looked as though it was stained with blood.
 

20041004: Testimony Begins in Lee Murder Trial LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The death penalty case against accused serial killer Derrick Todd Lee starts Monday. ..Lee is charged with first-degree murder in the beating and stabbing death of 22-year-old Jackson native Murray Pace. She was found raped and murdered in May of 2002, with 81 stab and puncture wounds on her body. She was a graduate student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge at the time. ..Lee has already been sentenced to life in prison for the second-degree murder of Geralyn Desoto. ..Lee's lawyers are appealing that conviction. Jurors will be sequestered until a verdict is reached. .
 

20040930: Jury should be seated soon in alleged serial killer's trial LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Twelve jurors, including a high school basketball coach, a union leader and a woman who said she thought Derrick Todd Lee looked like "a nice man," were chosen Wednesday to try Lee for the first-degree murder of Charlotte Murray Pace. ..But the defense and prosecution fell short of selecting the four alternates needed, meaning jury selection, which started 2 ½ weeks ago, will last at least one more day and that opening statements likely won't begin until Monday. .."We've still got more work to do," lead East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutor John Sinquefield said shortly after picking the jury, which consists of five white men, five white women, a black man and a black woman. ..But both he and lead defense attorney Mike Mitchell appeared pleased to have selected the jury that will decide Lee's fate and, possibly, if he should live or die for his alleged crimes. .."Under the circumstances, I think it's the best jury we could get," said Mitchell, who had asked the trial be moved to another parish in order to find jurors untainted by news coverage of Lee's seven alleged killings, including the rape and murder of Pace, 22, in May 2002. .."And I hope we picked a jury that's going to be fair and impartial and put aside their feelings as they said they probably would," he said. ...No holds barred ..Often compared to a chess match, jury selection in this case has been more like a "back-alley fight," Sinquefield said Wednesday. Since it began Sept. 13, attorneys have questioned 121 people, one by one, about everything from their opinions on the death penalty to their knowledge of mental retardation. ..Both issues loom large in a trial in which Lee, who's already serving a life sentence for one murder, would face the death penalty if convicted by a 12-0 jury vote. If it comes to that, Lee's attorneys are expected to argue that he is mentally retarded in an attempt to save his life. ..It's an argument that's roughly two weeks away, according to the judge's prediction for how long the trial will last. But to get a feel for what prospective jurors thought about the case, attorneys grilled them for answers now and argued with each other before finally settling on the 12 jurors chosen Wednesday. ..Many of the 12 already knew of Lee's murder conviction in West Baton Rouge Parish. A few said they thought he was guilty. But those jurors said they thought they could put their opinions aside and judge Lee only on the evidence presented in court. Others said they had no opinion whatsoever. ..The jurors include a 46-year-old graduate student and mother of three who said she knew "very little about the case"; a union steward who said he could follow the law; a receptionist; a Wal-Mart meat market worker; a Home Depot employee; a man who runs a painting and drywall business; and a 39-year-old accountant and mother of two who looked at Lee and said, "He actually looks like a nice man." ...Matter of life and death ..Some of those selected lean in favor of the death penalty. One of the two black jurors, a 27-year-old computer enthusiast, said, "If someone commits the cruelest crime, they should get the cruelest punishment." A high school boys basketball coach said he could vote for the death penalty if the defendant got a fair trial. And a few jurors said they thought the death penalty was an unfortunate but necessary punishment. ..Others seemed to lean against it. A 63-year-old woman told the prosecution that, in theory, people don't have the right to take a life. But she said she could vote for it, as did a mental health worker who initially said she did not agree with the death penalty. ..The mental health worker, who said she considered herself politically liberal, added that she thought life in prison may even be worse than death. But she also said that she's the sort of person who holds people responsible for their actions -- even those with mental problems. ..The prosecution didn't remove her from the jury pool, even when they had a chance to do so Wednesday with one of the 12 strikes each side was allotted from the start. ..Prosecutors also opted to keep a 60-year-old nutrition specialist who talked at length about her ex-husband's struggles with bipolar disorder, a mental problem in Lee's family history that also is expected to come up if the trial reaches the penalty phase. More than any other person who made the panel of 12, she gave prosecutors pause. Sinquefield even asked to speak with her a second time during jury selection last week. .."I have to be careful," he told the woman, telling her that it takes only one juror to save Lee's life and that he didn't want to "be defeated before the trial starts." He asked her once more if she could vote for death in a case where Lee's mental state may take center stage, given her personal experiences. ..The woman considered the question and answered, "Definitely." ..
 

20040922: Serial killer victim's family remembers LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Today is about Gina. But so was yesterday, and the day before and the day before that...For the family of Gina Wilson Green, the first victim linked to a Baton Rouge serial killer who targeted seven young women, if it's possible to think about Gina more than they already do, today will be the day...Sept. 23, 2004, marks the three-year anniversary of Gina's death..."She's missed just as much today as she was three years ago," said Gina's mother Margaret Wilson of Natchez. "Memories flood me though. I just picked up my mail and there's cards."..Wilson's thoughts instantly go to her daughter's smile.."It just sparkles," Wilson said of Gina's smile. "She was a beauty. She was extra."..When Wilson thinks of Gina's work as a nurse, she remembers the long hours with very few days off. "She was a loving, giving person in her life, and it was all about helping others." On those days off Wilson said Gina was a "free bird.".."She was such a fun loving, yet serious person," she said. "She was my rock."..It's the loss of that rock, the middle child, that makes Wilson think she has a new family role..."I'm going to light a candle, take some time out and say special prayers for her and try to keep my strength up for the ones that's she's left behind."..Sheree Bryant, Gina's older sister, has a full day ahead of her. After a normal day of work Bryant will travel out of town with her daughter for a school trip. Being busy is something Bryant hopes will help her make it through the day...But lunch is for Gina..."I'm just going to sit out there (at Gina's gravesite) on my lunch hour," Bryant said...Bryant knows her thoughts are going to wander to a bad place today. "What she went through, the fear of knowing someone's going to kill you, that's what's on my mind tomorrow," Bryant said Wednesday. "I know that she's in a better place than we are though. It's just hard. I miss her. I just hurt so bad."..Gina, 41, was found strangled in her Baton Rouge home on Sept. 24, 2001, after she did not show up to work...And though today is about Gina, it's also about Derrick Todd Lee, who is the suspect in Gina's murder and six others. "Why did he pick her? Why did he pick the ones that had everything in front of them?" Wilson said. "Those are questions we would like answered."..Wilson and her family have been closely following Lee's trials. Jury selection in the first-degree murder case of Charlotte Murray Pace is under way. Tuesday Lee's lawyer presented preliminary findings from a mental health expert to show that Lee is mentally retarded. If Lee is declared mentally retarded he will be ineligible for the death penalty, something Wilson said she doesn't want to see happen..."That's strange that he was able to hold a job and maneuver himself in and out of jail all those times," Wilson said. "This needs to be over. Let's get it over with. There are too many families that are involved here."..Bryant said she is confident that Lee's days are numbered..."Everybody just keep us in their prayers," Bryant asked...For the family, tomorrow is about Gina, and the day after and the day after that.. .
 

20040816: Life for murder of Geralyn DeSoto LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
A Louisiana judge Monday sentenced suspected serial killer Derrick Todd LEE to life in prison without parole for the murder of a Baton Rouge woman. . .LEE was convicted of second-degree murder last week in the slaying of Geralyn DeSoto, a Louisiana State University graduate student. He made no comment when he was sentenced...Police say DNA evidence has linked LEE to the deaths of seven women in south Louisiana between April 1998 and March 2003...LEE was tried for the first time in the DeSoto case. He faces trial next month on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of Charlotte Murray Pace. If convicted, he would face the death penalty in that case. He has pleaded innocent....
 

20040806: Surviving victim identifies LEE as attacker LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Diane Alexander was the first witness after opening statements Thursday in the first trial against Lee, who was arrested last year and linked by DNA evidence to seven women's deaths, according to police...In testimony accompanied by pictures of wounds she suffered in a July 2002 attack, Alexander pointed to Lee, identifying him as her attacker...Lee, 35, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Geralyn DeSoto, 21, found in a pool of her own blood in the West Baton Rouge Parish town of Addis in January 2002. If convicted he will be sentenced to life in prison. He also faces at least three other trials — two death penalty cases in other murders, and the attempted rape-murder of Alexander...Prosecutors are being allowed to use evidence from one of the other murders and the Alexander case in the trial for DeSoto's murder...In his opening statement, prosecutor Tony Clayton detailed the bloody DeSoto crime scene, saying she had been stabbed in the back and the side and that her throat had been slashed...Clayton said experts will testify that 99.6 percent of the population cannot match the DNA found under DeSoto's fingernails; the other .4 percent could only be males in Lee's family, because Lee has "peculiar markings" that are rarely seen in DNA...There was no evidence that anyone else killed DeSoto, Clayton added, anticipating a defense argument that DeSoto's husband might have had something to do with her death...Testimony alleging that Darren DeSoto abused his wife is likely, Clayton said, but he added: "Darren didn't kill his wife. West Baton Rouge Parish Police investigated Darren up one side and down the other."..Thompson said while DeSoto's death was a tragedy, he wanted to make sure jurors did not make a mistake and "create another tragedy."
 

20040804: Victim´s husband describes murder scene LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Describing a grisly scene, the husband of a West Baton Rouge Parish woman who authorities say was murdered by serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee said Friday that he found his wife in a pool of blood and initially wasn't able to determine what happened to her...Darren DeSoto, husband of Geralyn DeSoto, said he arrived at their mobile home on Jan. 14, 2002, and saw a shotgun on the bed next to his wife's body. He said he didn't know if his wife had committed suicide or if there was some sort of accident, so he paced around the house..."I noticed her face was swollen and bruised. I turned her head a little bit and at that moment I saw her throat was cut wide open," DeSoto said...The testimony came in the first of four trials against Lee, who was arrested last year and linked by DNA evidence to seven women's deaths, according to police...Lee, 35, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Geralyn DeSOTO. If convicted, Lee will be sentenced to life in prison. He also faces at least three other trials - two death penalty cases in other murders, and an attempted rape-murder. ..In court documents, defense attorney Tommy Thompson said he intended to present a defense that someone other than Lee murdered DeSoto, 21, possibly even her husband, who was cleared by police after being considered a suspect...Earlier Friday, John Martin, a security manager for BellSouth, provided a document that listed the calls made from the victim's home on the day she was murdered...Prosecutor Tony Clayton argued in his opening statement Thursday that DeSoto disconnected her online connection to allow Lee to make a telephone call. Clayton contends when DeSoto went to get the phone back, Lee forced his way into the mobile home, where he killed DeSoto...Lee's second trial, for the killing of Charlotte Murray Pace, is scheduled to begin Sept.13 in Baton Rouge and his third trial, for the attack, is set for Nov. 3. No date has been set in the Lafayette murder case...Besides DeSoto, authorities say Lee, of St. Francisville, has been linked by DNA evidence to the deaths of Pace, Gina Wilson Green, Pam Kinamore, Trineisha Dene Colomb, Carrie Yoder and Randi Mebruer.
 

20040802: First trial opened LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Today jury selection begins in Port Allen, where serial killer suspect Derrick Todd LEE faces his first trial the stabbing death of Geralyn DeSOTO (21). She was found by her husband with slashed throat in Addis in January 2002...LEE has pleaded innocent in the case. The judge has said 500 people have received subpoenas for jury duty. The trial is expected to last about three weeks...Besides DeSOTO, authorities say Lee has been linked by D-N-A to the deaths of Gina Wilson GREEN, Charlotte Murray PACE, Pam KINAMORE, Trineisha Dene COLOMB, Carrie Lynn YODER and Randi MEBRUER.
 

20040613: Search for Serial Killer Victim LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
Deep, gooey muck is making it nearly impossible for searchers to get to what sonar scans indicated might be human bones in a pond near the home of serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee...Zachary Police Chief Joey Watson says the ground is like quicksand... After draining the pond, which took most of last week, investigators had hoped to rake out the mud Sunday, but wound up sending for a backhoe. Scattered showers and thunderstorms also threatened the work, with heavy rain expected Monday... Police say DNA links Lee to the murders of seven women between April 1998 and March 2003, including that of 28-year-old Randi Mebruer. Her body has never been found, but police said evidence at her home indicates that she could not have survived... Lee has been charged with three of the murders and with an attack on a Breaux Bridge woman, who survived. He has pleaded innocent... Attention turned to the borrow pit in West Feliciana Parish after police learned Lee had often fished there... In addition to Mebruer, West Feliciana Parish deputies are looking for Glenn ``Diddy'' Tankersly, who disappeared in December of 2002 from the nearby Elm Park community.
 

20040505: Serial Killer Trial Delayed LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
The Louisiana Supreme Court has agreed to delay the first trial of serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee. Lee's trial had been scheduled to start Monday, but his lawyers filed a motion to have it postponed. The supreme court approved a continuance motion Wednesday.
 

20040412: Representation assigned LA Lafayette Serial Killer News
New Iberia attorney Glenda HUDDLESTON represents accused serial killer Derrick Todd LEE on charges he faces in connection with an attack of a Breaux Bridge woman in July 2002.
Investigators say LEE has been linked by DNA evidence to the killings of seven south Louisiana women. In the St. Martin Parish case, he is set for trial July 6 on charges of attempted rape and attempted murder.
Prosecutors said that LEE attacked a woman at her home but was scared away when her son returned from school. The woman has positively identified LEE as her attacker. DNA pulled from sweat stains left on the woman’s dress has not been definitively linked to LEE, but investigators also said that the DNA evidence does not exclude him.
HUDDLESTON is a contract attorney for the public defenders office, which represents defendants who cannot afford legal counsel.
Two key issues in pre-trial hearings have been whether she has had enough time prepare and whether her office has enough money to fund expert witnesses to help defend LEE.
 

20040402: August trial date set for serial killer suspect Lee LA Port Allen Serial Killer News
Derrick Todd LEE, suspected in the deaths of seven south Louisiana women, will stand trial in August on second-degree murder charges in West Baton Rouge Parish, a judge decided Thursday.
State District Judge Robin Free set an Aug. 2 trial date for Lee in the killing of Geralyn DeSOTO, an LSU student from Addis.
LEE has two other trial dates scheduled before the DeSoto case — one set for May 10 in the Baton Rouge killing of Charlotte Murray PACE and another set for July 6 in the attempted rape and attempted killing of Diane ALEXANDER of Breaux Bridge.
LEE is accused of stabbing and beating DeSoto to death in her home on Jan. 14, 2002.
Attorneys for LEE asked Free to give them a year to prepare for LEE’s trial, but Free gave them until August — and a warning he would not allow the defense to stall the case. The judge said DeSoto’s family had a right to a speedy trial.
Police say DNA evidence linked LEE to the slayings of seven women between April 1998 and March 2003 and the attack in Breaux Bridge. LEE, 35, has been indicted in three killings and is charged in the attack. He has pleaded not guilty.
 

20040331: Prosecutors Win Big in Serial Killer Case GA Atlanta Serial Killer News
Prosecutors in the first murder trial against accused serial killer Derrick Todd LEE can use evidence from other alleged crimes, including the testimony of a woman who said LEE tried to rape and kill her, effectively making the trial "a serial prosecution".
State District Judge Richard Anderson ruled today against Lee's lawyers who had sought to limit the scope of the evidence in the first-degree murder case in the killing of Charlotte Murray PACE.
Anderson dealt a second blow to LEE's defenders, refusing to postpone the trial after LEE's public defender Mike Mitchell said a molecular biologist and social worker who were working on LEE's defense won't have adequate time to prepare for the May 10th start date.
Police say DNA evidence links LEE to the murders of seven women between April 1998 and March 2003 and the attack on Diane ALEXANDER, a Breaux Bridge nurse.
 

20030527: Suspect arrested GA Atlanta Serial Killer News
Derrick Todd LEE, 34, has a criminal record that includes a two-year prison term for burglary and a history of stalking and "peeping Tom" incidents. When Lee swabbed in connection to the Randi MEBRUER disappearance, he lived in St. Francisville with his wife and two children -- a 13-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. School officials say Lee and his wife pulled their kids out of school soon after he submitted the DNA sample.
The family first fled to Chicago, then Atlanta -- where Lee was arrested May 27, 2003. Police say his wife and children are safe, but in hiding.
 

20040302: 3 Murders with Similarities LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News

Finding similarities in 3 homicides, police suspects a second serial killer in the Baton Rouge area:

Katherine HALL (29), found January 1999
Johnnie Mae WILLIAMS (45), found October 2003
Donna Bennett JOHNSTON (43), found February 2004

All three victims have been strangled, were drug-addicted, frequented high risk areas, WILLIAMS and JOHNSTON worked as prostitutes.

 

20030313: 5th Victim Carrie Lynn YODER found dead LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News

Carrie Lynn YODER was abducted the day before Mardi Gras from her home on Dodson Avenue near the LSU campus. Her boyfriend was the last to talk to her -- they spoke before she went to the grocery store. The groceries were found inside her home.

Yoder's body was found March 13th in a marshy area in the Atchafalaya River Basin near the Whiskey Bay exit off Interstate 10. That's the same area Pam Kinamore's body was found. Yoder died of asphyxiation caused by strangulation. She was also beaten by the killer.

Yoder was a 26-year old from Florida. She was attending LSU, studying biological sciences as a grad student.

 

20021224: 4th victim linked to BATON ROUGE Serial Killer LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News
DNA evidence from the three other victims of a suspected serial killer could be definitely linked to another woman´s body, found dead November 24, 2002 in a wooden area of Scott.
Trineisha Dené Colomb (22), a Lafayette woman, was reported missing November 22, when her car was found abandoned in Grand Coteau.
As with the other cases, there were no signs of forced entry into Colomb´s car. According to authorities Colomb died from blunt trauma to the head.
A witness recalled seeing an early 1990 model, white, step-side Chevrolet pickup truck parked behind Colomb´s car on the afternoon of November 21. This description closely matches a vehicle description in the investigation into the death of Pam Kinamore, the last known victim of the serial killer.
 

20021119: Press Conference with new Information LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News

Police informed public, referring to yet unpublished details of their investigation, that the three victims have been sexually abused.
Investigators further confirmed, that belongings of victim GREEN have been discovered in the Ready-Portion Meat Company in Baton Rouge, Choctaw Drive...

 


Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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