GRADY, Ark. - After more than 20 years on death row, Ledell Lee maintained his innocence, arguing he deserved post-conviction DNA testing.
In February 1993, 27-year-old Lee robbed and strangled 26-year-old Debra Reese in her Jacksonville home. He then beat her 36 times with the same tire thumper her husband gave her for protection.
Her son was only six years old.
"My mother was everything to me," said Joseph Lucky. "When she was ripped from my life, it started a spiral that I almost didn't recover from. My family has lived in the shadow of this event our entire lives."
Lee was sentenced to death two years after Reese's murder.
Prosecutors referred to him as a psychosexual serial rapist.
According to court documents, Reese wasn't Lee's only victim. He committed violent crimes against five women, all in the Sunnyside area of Jacksonville. Some involved rape and some ended with murder.
The ages of Lee's victims ranged from 17 to 70.
"He is the embodiment of the evil that should never have to exist in this world," Lucky said.
After 21 years on death row, Lee maintains his innocence.
"He's not here to ask for forgiveness," said attorney Lee Short, explaining the reason for Lee's absence at his most recent clemency hearing in March. "He's not here because he's remorseful for a murder he didn't commit."
Twenty-four years after his mother's murder, Lucky asked the state to help put an end to his family's pain.
"Let us have some closure," he said. "Let this end. Let us step out from this shadow."
More than two decades later, the family received closure on Thursday night when Lee was put to death.
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