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Convicted Baton Rouge killer appeals death sentence

When someone who has been accused of committing a serious crime is found guilty, it can feel as though the world has been turned upside down. However, sometimes the court's decision is not final. Maybe the defendant's lawyers were not competent. Perhaps new evidence became known after the conviction. When something like this happens, it is possible for a defendant to file an appeal.

This is what has happened in the case of a suspected killer. The defendant was accused of killing an LSU graduate student in 2002. He received a death sentence in East Baton Rouge Parish for the murder. However, the defendant believed the court came to the wrong decision.

After the court sentenced him to death in 2004, the defendant reached out to the Capital Appeals Project of Louisiana. On Monday, the Capital Appeals Project filed a nearly 300-page post-conviction appeal on his behalf, asking that the death sentence be overturned and the defendant be granted a new trial.

In the petition, the project members asserted that the defendant's lawyers were underfunded and ineffective. Further, they argued that prosecutors were guilty of misconduct, as they failed to present evidence that may have freed the defendant.

The prosecution understandably does not want a new trial. A prosecutor spoke out, insisting that the defendant received a fair trial and denying the claims that any evidence may have been suppressed.

In any criminal case, many people like to believe the courts always make the right decisions. However, sometimes they do not have the proper information to make the best decision the first time. The consequences of a wrong decision can be severe, and legal mistakes can literally cost an innocent life. Therefore, if justice was not properly served, the defendant may find relief in an appeal.

Source:, "Appeal filed for Derrick Todd Lee," Jim Shannon, 20 April 2011

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