Held in Autauga County Jail, Lee pleads not guilty in Lowndes County triple murder case

Published 12:42 pm Monday, September 23, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Triple murder suspect Deandra Marquis Lee pleaded not guilty before Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell during his arraignment in Hayneville on Monday.

Lee faces six capital murder charges in connection with the June 3, 2012 murders of 9-year-old twins, Jordan and Taylor Dejerinett, from Montgomery, and their 73-year-old caretaker, Jack Mac Girdner of Hope Hull, in Lowndes County.

He was indicted for the murders by the July 2013 Lowndes County grand jury, and previously waived a reading of indictments and pleaded not guilty to unrelated charges of theft of property and promoting prison contraband.

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Lee, who was 22 at the time of the crime, is represented by defense attorneys Jerry Thornton and Logan Taylor of Hayneville.

Thornton declined to comment on the case Monday.

Lowndes County District Attorney Charlotte M. Tesmer said she plans to seek the death penalty for the capital murders.

“These are the ones we are here to protect… children,” Tesmer said. “These children didn’t deserve what they got. Mr. Girdner did not. He was an elderly man. And the crimes just are those type that lend themselves to the death penalty.”

Tesmer noted, “of course, he (Lee) is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.”

Lovell required the reading of the capital murder charges, which include, three capital murder charges for the murder of the victims during a robbery, two capital murder charges for the killing of a child less than 14 years of age and one capital murder charge for the killing of two or more people in the commission of the same action.

Included in the charges for capital murder during the commission of a robbery were the shooting of the victims with a handgun during the theft of a 1988 Mercedes 560 SL vehicle.

Tesmer said Lee is currently being held in the Autauga County Jail.

She said, “It’s up to the sheriff whether or not he houses inmates in his local county jail or if he makes arrangements with someone else.”

Tesmer said there were “some issues with his conduct within the (Lowndes County) jail that the sheriff (John Williams) felt it was best for him to be moved to Autauga County.”

She said Lee will be filing a number of motions in coming days and Lovell will set scheduling conference and will enter an order relating to the scheduling of different motions and the hearing of those motions.

Tesmer also said the state filed a motion to consolidate all of the capital cases on Aug. 5 and that she saw no reason why Lovell would not grant that.

She explained that the capital murder cases would be tried together, the theft would be tried by itself because it is not related, and the prison contraband cases (two) would be tried with themselves.

Tesmer said the case will be ready to go to trial in the spring.

“We have a fall term that defense counsel will not be ready for,” Tesmer said. But, she said, Lovell, “has told both the state and the defense to be ready in the spring. And we will be ready.”

The children had last been seen with Girdner June 3, 2012, according to information from the Department of Public Safety.

When the children were reported missing on the following day, authorities said they were in the custody of Girdner, who had known the family for “about three years.” They had been reportedly last seen in Montgomery.

According to the ABI, the bodies were discovered by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and the ABI on a dirt road off of Alabama Hwy. 21 near Hayneville, three miles south of U.S. Hwy. 80.

A day later, the ABI confirmed they had recovered the missing 1998 white Mercedes, owned by Girdner. The car, which was missing all four of its doors, was discovered in the Minter community in south Dallas County.

Lee was captured June 9, 2012, in a small apartment in Selma, reportedly huddled in the room with a woman.

His bond was set at $3 million cash.