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Bats move Jury selection process in Lee triple murder case

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

October is a time for witches, bats and pumpkins. And this Halloween season has added an odd twist to the Lee triple muder trial… bats in the courthouse.

After six years, the trial of Lowndes County triple murder suspect Deandra Marquis Lee began with start of the jury selection process on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the Lowndes County Courthouse.

However, as jury selection is still ongoing in the case, and the courtroom has been closed due to an infestation of bats in the Lowndes County Courthouse, jury selection is continuing in the Lowndes County Commission Chambers of the Charles Smith Senior Courthouse Annex across the street.

Lowndes County Commission Chairman Carnell McAlpine said on Wednesday, Oct. 17, that about 10 days ago a county maintenance person discovered bats in the attic of the Lowndes County Courthouse.

McAlpine said a company (Alabama Wildlife Pro of Alabaster) began working to get rid of the bats, but “Some undoubted seeped through and got down into the courtroom. And it has an odor in it.”

McAlpine said it was hoped that the bats would be out in time for the trial, but the company is expected to return today (Thursday, Oct. 18) to continue it’s efforts to rid the courtroom of the bats.

According to county personnel, the courthouse annex was first used Tuesday, Oct. 16 for jury selection.

At this point, jury selection has been ongoing, according to the Lowndes County Circuit Clerk’s office trial is expected to begin either this afternoon, (Thursday, Oct. 18) or on Friday, Oct. 19.

According to court documents, on Wednesday, Feb. 28, Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell issued a court order setting the triple murder trial of suspect Deandra Marquis Lee for Tuesday, Oct. 9.

June 5, 2018 marked the six-year anniversary of the this case.

On June 5, 2012, the bodies of 9-year-old twins Jordan and Taylor Dejerinett from Montgomery and their 73-year-old caretaker Jack Mac Girdner of Hope Hull were discovered by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation on a dirt road off Alabama Highway 21 near Hayneville, three miles south of U.S. Highway 80.

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

A day after the bodies were found, 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.

He was indicted for the murders by the July 2013 Lowndes County grand jury and pled not guilty to the murders in September of that same year.

Lee faces a total of six capital murder charges, 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 and one capital murder charge for the killing of two or more people.

Lee was 22 at the time of the murders.

Lee is represented by attorneys Jerry L. Thornton and Robert Troy Teague. The case is being prosecuted by 2nd Judicial Circuit District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer.