You probably didn't know that Arkansas was the quartz crystal capital of the world. We're willing to bet that you didn't know that they've also just had their first execution since 2005. Now when it comes to justice, especially when it involves a murder case, some of us believe in an eye for an eye. This sort of justice was served in Grady, Arkansas after Ledell Lee was executed by lethal injection.
51-year-old Ledell Lee in prison
Ledell Lee murdered his neighbor way back in 1993 and escaped justice for a couple of years after that. It wasn't until two years later that he was convicted in 1995, and then tried, but failed to overturn his death sentence back in 1997.
Lee was the first inmate to be put to death in Arkansas in over 12 years.
This made his lethal injection at the hands of the Arkansas Department of Corrections that much more media focused. Obviously, not everyone felt that capital punishment was the way to go with Lee. Some wondered if using a three-drug cocktail consisting of Midazolam, vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride to end his life was the humane thing to do.
The combination of drugs guarantees that the death of an inmate is a sure thing.
To start, Midazolam will cause the prisoner to lose consciousness, while vecuronium will paralyze him or her. Then the potassium chloride will finish the inmate off by causing cardiac arrest. Whether you think that this is inhuman or not, the fact is that Ledell probably deserves it.
A painful death would be a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
So, since the state ensures that cruel and unusual punishment will not be administered, the Midazolam lulls the inmate into a deep sleep because the other two drugs would cause an extremely painful death. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen and the inmate does experience pain.
Lee's attorney, Jeffrey Rosenzweig doesn't feel that the punishment fits the crime.
"Do you believe that this is an okay way to take the life of someone who's committed a violent crime?" he asked. Lee's attorneys felt that modern DNA testing would ultimately prove their client's innocence.
They were already looking to test a drop of blood on one of Lee's shoes and hairs found at the crime scene.
Lee almost dodged a bullet, but the justice system managed to prevail in the end.
They also wanted to question three eyewitnesses, whom they felt may not have been reliable, just to waste time. His death warrant was set to expire within 30 minutes, and that's when the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution, allowing the punishment to go forward.
The Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union tried stopping the execution.
Just days before he was about to meet his fate, these organizations, along with Lee's attorneys filed a civil rights lawsuit asking for a stay of execution to allow more time for new DNA testing to be conducted in the case.
Nina Morrison was livid.
Nina, a senior staff attorney with the Innocent Project was angry as hell! According to her, the state has committed involuntary manslaughter. She claimed that "it's inappropriate for the state to rush to execute before a defendant's innocence claim can be properly examined".
The court felt differently.
The court thought that Lee had been waiting long enough and it was time to act. After all, Lee had been cooling his heels in prison for over two decades, and some wondered whether it was fair for him to keep on breathing and eating while his victim couldn't.
This is a photo of Debra Reese, which was taken shortly before being murdered.
According to the evidence, the defense claimed that Lee had killed his neighbor Reese on February 9th, 1993 by smashing her head with a tire iron and then stealing $300 from her. Just look at her. Did she deserve the ugly death that she got?
From this photo, you'd never imagine that Lee was capable of hurting anyone, let alone his neighbor who he knew quite well. Well, that's what the defense was counting on, particularly since 32 percent of DNA exonerations involved multiple misidentifications according to the Innocence Project.
One last meal
We've all seen enough crime dramas to know that an inmate is entitled to one last meal. But instead of requesting a last meal, Lee asked for a Holy Communion instead in the hopes of making peace with God before his execution.
Even as the three injections were laid out, the Innocence Project argued Lee's innocence.
They claim that the nation's 349 exonerations have already proven that "eyewitness identifications are unreliable, but their efforts were futile. Plus, Lee certainly got the end of the stick during his first post-conviction hearing. For starters, his lawyer was allegedly drunk during the trial and interjected "blah, blah, blah" into his statements. So his conviction may have been the result of ineffective counsel.
Death penalty argument
Protesters gathered in Grady, Arkansas to make a stand against the death penalty. Many feel that it's just not right to seek justice by killing another human being, if their involvement in the crime was debatable. But on the opposite side of the fence, there are many who believe that convicts need to be stamped out.
Death waits for no one
In the end, all you can do is make peace with your fate, and go in peace, like Lee did. At 11:44 p.m. local time on Thursday, April 17th, 2017, Lee was administered the lethal injections and was pronounced dead 12 minutes later.
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