Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus The Article Core Values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive

Lee lawyers decry blind eye to DNA

They cite stubbornness in killer’s case by Tony Holt | July 1, 2020 at 7:24 a.m.
In this Oct. 31 1997, file photo, Danny Lee waits for his arraignment hearing for the 1996 murders of an Arkansas family in Russellville. (AP file photo)

In a new filing Tuesday, attorneys for a condemned killer accused the U.S. government of "stubbornly" defending a guilty verdict and death sentence based on "debunked" DNA evidence.

Daniel Lewis "Danny" Lee, 46, is scheduled to die by lethal injection July 13 in Terre Haute, Ind. He was convicted for the January 1996 slayings of a Pope County family. The three victims -- William Mueller, 52; his wife, Nancy, 28; and her daughter, Sarah Powell, 8 -- were asphyxiated and then dumped in a body of water outside Russellville. Lee and his accomplice, Chevie Kehoe, were arrested by federal authorities on murder charges in 1997.

Lee's defense attorneys filed a motion last month urging a U.S. district judge in Little Rock to allow for a new DNA comparison of an old hair fiber. They asked that the DNA be tested against some other men who were identified as possible suspects during the early stages of the investigation. Attorneys said an independent lab tested the hair in 2007 and discovered it wasn't a match to Lee's DNA.

During the 1999 trial, prosecutors told jurors that the hair fiber, found in a cap thought to have been worn by Lee during the slayings, belonged to the defendant, according to court documents.

The government filed a response to the motion last week arguing that the request for a DNA comparison was unwarranted, untimely and outside legal boundaries. Federal attorneys also said the evidence that was stacked against Lee overshadowed anything that would come out of a new DNA comparison.

Lee's attorneys, Morris Moon and George Kouros, were critical of the government's response in their filing Tuesday, stating that "the one thing the Government should have done -- but didn't -- is articulate a single downside to finding out" whose hair was found in the cap.

They went on to write that the government "inexplicably refuses to look for answers where it knows it could find them."

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the execution from going forward.

If Lee is executed, he would be the first federal death-row inmate to die by lethal injection since 2003.


Sponsor Content