Judge grants delay in Lee triple-murder trial

Published 3:17 pm Monday, February 29, 2016

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell granted a continuance (delay) in the trial of 2012 triple-murder suspect Deandre Marquis Lee, Monday.
Lee appeared in court with his attorneys Jerry Thornton and Logan Taylor, both of Hayneville.
The case was set to go to trial on April 11 of this year. However, Lovell granted the delay sought on Lee’s behalf to give his attorneys more time to prepare for the case and due to concerns over Alabama’s death penalty.
Through his attorneys, Lee moved to delay his trial because, “The recent decision by the United States Supreme Court in Hurst v. Florida raises serious constitutional questions about the viability of the death scheme utilized by the state of Alabama. Those constitutional issues need to be resolved before Mr. Lee is put on trial.”
Also according to the motion to continue, Lee and his attorneys need an additional expert/professional witness to be properly prepared, the defendant and his attorneys need additional time to adequately prepare for the trial, and a mitigation expert cannot be ready for trial by the current trial setting.
According to the motion to bar the death penalty, Alabama’s statute requires the judge, not the jury, to make the “ultimate factual findings necessary to impose a death penalty.”
And according to the motion to bar the death penalty, “The United States Supreme Court struck down Florida’s death penalty scheme because it gave the trial court the final authority to make ‘the critical findings necessary to impose the death penalty.'”
In granting the motion to delay, Lovell said she expected the issue to be resolved and not to grant any further continuances.
“Of course, we’re frustrated and disappointed,” said Lowndes County District Attorney Charlotte M. Tesmer. “But there are some legal issues out there now because of the Hurst decision in Florida that most likely will impact Alabama cases.”
She said, “If we did go forward with it and then had it overturned, we would have to try it again. I certainly wouldn’t want the victims to have to go through that. So, it’s a double edged sword… like to get it over with, get some closure for the victims… their families.”
Thornton declined to comment on the judge’s ruling Monday.
Lee faces six capital murder charges in connection with the 2012 deaths of 9-year-old twins, Jordan and Taylor Dejerinett from Montgomery and their 73-year-old caretake, Jack Mac Girdner of Hope Hull.

Triple-murder suspect Deandra Marquis Lee is escorted by Lowndes County Deputy L. Yelder and Sheriff John Williams (not pictured).

Triple-murder suspect Deandra Marquis Lee is escorted by Lowndes County Deputy L. Yelder and Sheriff John Williams (not pictured). File photo.

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