Lee triple-murder trial delayed, status hearing set for Oct. 16

Published 3:02 pm Friday, September 29, 2017

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

The trial of Lowndes County triple murder suspect Deandra Marquis Lee will not be held on Oct. 10 as previously scheduled, but a status hearing on the case will be held on Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. to set a hearing on a defendant’s motion.

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Lowndes County Circuit Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell issued an order Wednesday, Sept. 27 to continue the cases against Lee from the October 2017 Criminal Jury Trial Term and stating that they will be reset.

Then Friday, Sept. 29 Lovell issued additional orders that experts file affidavits on or before Oct. 6 to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt for delay of the trial that was scheduled for Oct. 10, 2017.

She further ordered that a status hearing be set for Monday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. to determine a timeline for setting a hearing on the defendant’s Motion for an Atkins hearing.

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

On June 5, 2012, the bodies of the Dejerinett twins and Girdner were discovered by the Lowndes County Sheriff ’s Office and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) on a dirt road off of Alabama Highway 21 near Hayneville, three miles south of U.S. Highway 80.

The three had been reported missing on Monday, June 4, 2012.

The defendant, Lee, was 22 at the time of the crime.

He is represented by attorneys Jerry L. Thornton of Hayneville and Logan R. Taylor of Hayneville.

According to court orders, a matter came to be heard on Sept. 25 for pretrial motions and on an order to show cause entered Sept. 21 where attorneys and defense experts were ordered to appear before the court to show cause as to “whether they have caused undue delay of this trial.”

However, upon consideration of the matters, the court acknowledged the Sept. 21order may not have given defense experts sufficient time to adjust their schedules and so appear.

According to court orders, at the hearing, counsel appeared and informed the court that the experts were unavailable. However, the orders state, “This court would expect the defense or their experts to file a response or request a continuance or excusal due to their unavailability.”

Lovell ordered that defense experts, namely Mitigation Expert Cheri Hodson, Dr. Robert Schaffer and Wayne Hulon shall file affidavits on or before Friday, Oct. 6 to show cause as to why they should not be

held in contempt for delay of the trial that was scheduled for Oct. 10.

According to the order, “The Court has been unable to determine if defense counsel and/or the defense experts intentionally misled or withheld information regarding the defendant’s alleged intellectual disability which has now resulted in a continuance of the trial setting.”

She further ordered that no additional fees will be approved for the experts pending his or her compliance with this show cause order. And, “Should any of the experts fail to file the required affidavits or give sufficient explanation for the court to make a determination on the issue, a hearing will be scheduled for the experts to be present and subject to removal or sanctions for their failure to comply with this Court’s orders.”

She ordered that a status hearing is set for Monday, October 16 at 1 p.m. to determine a timeline for setting a hearing on the Defendant’s Motion for an Atkins hearing.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the Supreme Court held that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel unusual punishment to execute death row inmates with “mental retardation.”