Judge Robin Free sentenced accused serial killer Derrick Todd Lee to life in prison for the murder of LSU grad student Geralyn DeSoto. In the sentencing phase of this second degree murder trial, the judge heard from emotional family members who delivered victim impact statements.
After two and a half years of choking back his pain, Geralyn's dad John Barr told Lee he's been restraining himself from attacking Lee throughout the whole trial. As he pounded the podium and swallowed his tears, John Barr told Lee quote, "Everyday, five minutes don't go by where I don't think about my daughter. You ain't been through nothing yet. But when you go to jail, the torture's going to be on you."
Lee won't actually head to Angola until after his September Trial in East Baton Rouge for the murder first degree murder of Charlotte Murray Pace. In the meantime he'll remain in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison so prosecutors and defense attorneys can have easy access to him.
Prosecutor Tony Clayton, who fought back his own emotions as John Barr addressed Lee, says there are plenty of people who will be waiting for Lee whenever he finally arrives. "Let me tell you something about Angola. There are some pretty big guys at Angola," says Clayton. "When you get to Angola with a reputation like Derrick Todd Lee has, some guy named Bubba's gonna make a reputation with you. As soon as Lee walks in there - he's going to have a date with Bubba - then he's going to have a date with a needle."
No matter what awaits Derrick Lee at Angola, Geralyn's mom Melanie says it will never balance out the horror Geralyn endured or the agony those she leaves behind live with everyday: "We're forever incomplete as a family. I don't expect you to understand that. Your reign of terror on Geralyn ends today and hers begins on you."
Melanie Barr went on to tell Lee she hopes he sees Geralyn's face and the faces of the other alleged victims, every time he closes his eyes. Geralyn's family also begged Lee to come clean about Geralyn's death and the other murders he's charged with.
Lee Remains Silent During And After Sentencing
Under a new law passed this year, victims' families are allowed unprecedented access to the person convicted. That single piece of legislation meant Geralyn's family members could speak their piece without restrictions.
By law, Lee had the right to address Geralyn's family after they finished talking to him. However, he remained silent. As Lee emerged from the courtroom he remained emotionless, despite having told reporters that he would make a statement as he left the Port Allen courthouse.
After sentencing Lee became a ward of the Louisiana Department of Corrections. His landlord is now Angola Warden Burl Cain. "It's a high profile case and once he is sentenced he's gonna become a D.O.C. inmate so it's appropriate that we would take possession of him after that," said Warden Cain.
Under heavy D.O.C. security when he emerged from the courtroom, Lee's demeanor completely changed. In the 15 minutes under the control of Warden Cain -- Lee appeared visibly frightened.
He was screamed at by Lynne Marino, mother of serial killer victim Pam Kinamore, and other victim's families. However, he never uttered the promised statement. "Who is laughing now, huh you coward! You had your chance why didn't you say something in court you big coward," yelled Marino.
Representative Yvonne Dorsey, who was at the sentencing, sponsored House Bill 877. The law went into effect over the weekend. For the first time, family members have free rein to speak their minds without approval from the judge. The emotional statements had a profound effect on Lynne Marino. "It was awful, it was awful to hear her father talk about how no matter how old they are you still wanna hug them and love them."