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Tests reveal new DNA evidence in executed man’s case


LITTLE ROCK — DNA testing from a 1993 killing in Arkansas has revealed genetic material from a male other than the inmate executed for the murder four years ago, two groups said Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Innocence Project released summaries of the testing of evidence from the 1993 murder of Debra Reese.

Ledell Lee, who was convicted of her murder, was one of four inmates executed by Arkansas in 2017.

The city of Jacksonville last year agreed to allow new tests on fingerprints and DNA evidence after the groups had sued.

The groups said the testing revealed DNA material from an unknown male other than Lee on the wooden club used to kill Reese and a bloody shirt that was wrapped around it. The groups said the DNA profile did not match any in a national database.

The groups also said that five fingerprints that had been discovered at the crime scene in 1993 were run in a national database but remain unidentified.

“While the results obtained twenty-nine years after the evidence was collected proved to be incomplete and partial, it is notable that there are now new DNA profiles that were not available during the trial or post-conviction proceedings in Mr. Lee’s case,' Nina Morrison, Senior Litigation Counsel at the Innocence Project, said in a statement.

Morrison said the groups hoped that the databases would generate additional information in the future.

Lee was the first of four

Continued on Page 10 STATE NEWS (cont.)

inmates Arkansas executed in April 2017 before its supply of a lethal injection drug expired. The state had originally planned to execute eight inmates, but four were spared by court rulings. Arkansas hasn't executed any inmates since April 2017.


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas now has a goal to partially vaccinate 50 percent of its population within the next 90 days, Gov.

Asa Hutchinson announced at his regular coronavirus briefing at the State Capitol on Tuesday.

Currently, 34 percent of the state has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the governor said.

To reach the additional 16 percent needed to meet the state’s new goal, the governor said more than 467,000 Arkansans will need to receive a dose of the vaccine. The governor described the new goal as a “simple foundational goal” that will “take a lot of work from Arkansans and their communities.”

To reach the new goal, the Arkansas Department of Health will organize mass vaccine clinics at large events around the state.

Clinics will take place at an Arkansas Travelers’ baseball game and at graduations for central Arkansas high schools at War Memorial Stadium, the governor said.

In other news from yesterday’s briefing, the governor and Secretary of Health Dr.

Jose Romero cautioned the state about the dangers of new coronavirus variants in the state. The most prevalent variant which originated in the United Kingdom (UK) accounts for some 75 percent of variant cases found in Arkansas, Romero said, adding that the UK variant is associated with a higher mortality and morbidity rate. Variants of the coronavirus have now been found in 29 Arkansas counties.

In the case report, Arkansas has noticed an uptick over last week’s numbers with 296 new cases of COVID19 confirmed since Monday. With the rise in cases comes an increase of 20 hospitalized Arkansans with the virus for a total of 192. Five additional deaths from complications due to COVID-19 have also been reported since Monday, bringing the state’s virus death toll to 5,752.

On the vaccine front, the state administered nearly 11,000 doses between Monday and Tuesday, bringing the state’s fullyimmunized population to more than 768,000.

In a final piece of news from Tuesday’s briefing, the governor announced that he would no longer focus specifically on COVID-19 in his regular Tuesday press briefings.

While briefings will continue, the governor said that their content will expand to areas outside of the coronavirus pandemic.

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