Derrick Todd Lee has been sentenced to death for the first degree murder of LSU grad student Charlotte Murray Pace. It took the jury that convicted Lee for Pace's murder 93 minutes to unanimously decide Lee's fate. Lee is now at Angola State Penitentiary.
In recommending death by lethal injection, the jury rejected the defense's argument that 35-year-old Lee was mentally retarded. If the jury would have agreed with the defense, Lee's life would have been spared based on a 2002 Supreme Court decision, which forbids the execution of the mentally retarded.
Celebrating the legal battle of his career, First Assistant District Attorney John Sinquefield said, "Tonight the South Louisiana Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee got south Louisiana justice and south Louisiana justice for serial killer's is the death penalty."
"We believe we put on a good case of mental retardation and obviously the jury didn't agree with us," said Lee's public defender Mike Mitchell. "That's the way the jury system works."
As he was being taken from the courtroom, Lee shouted, quote, "God don't sleep" and then, quote, "They don't wanna tell them about the DNA they took eight times." His family members reacted by shouting "I love you", while members of Pace's family gasped and then cried and hugged each other.
Outside the courtroom, Ann Pace, Murray's mother, said "This is not only a victory for Murray and our family, this is a victory for all the families."
Murray's sister, Sam, said, "This decision renews my faith that humanity on earth still exists."
Ann says the verdict is the final gift she and the other families can give their precious loved ones. "I feel all of them looking down on everything tonight. I feel like they are finally, finally, finally given some measure of peace and justice."
Murray's father, Casey Pace, thanked the jury for making the right decision. "It's a night to celebrate justice. It's a night to celebrate 12 citizens of Baton Rouge, who came in and did a very difficult thing," said Pace. "You know when you put your faith -- both the defendant and the prosecution into the hands of 12 strangers that you don't know... that's terrifying in itself."
9 News caught up with members of the jury at the Marriott Hotel about an hour after they said Lee must die. All 12 jurors told WAFB's Avery Davidson they were not ready to talk about their experience. However, Jury Foreman Robert Venable did say, "Justice has been done."
Lee Now At Angola State Penitentiary
Derrick Lee is now at Angola State Penitentiary, where he will await his date with death. Warden Burl Cane described Lee in the moments after he heard his fate and was handed over to the state.
"He was very subdued and he was very cooperative. He was 'Yes Sir' and 'No sir' -- when I told him how we expected him to act," said Warden Cane. "He was very, very humble and just everything was very cool. And he wanted to know when his mother could come and see him. And we'll let her come, whenever it is appropriate."
Lee joins 85 other men on Louisiana's death row. He will now spend 23 hours a day in a cell with an option for 3 hours a week, 1 hour a day to go outside in a small yard area.