Derrick Todd Lee, Baton Rouge Serial Killer
The First of Many Trials
On August 5, 2004, Derrick Todd Lee's trial into the murder of Geralyn De Soto began in Port Allen, Louisiana. One of the first witnesses to be heard by the six men, six women jury and district judge Robin Free was Lee's last victims, Diane Alexander. Deslatte reported in an August 2004 AP Online article that Alexander pointed to Lee and said during her testimony, "while my eyes were closed, I did not forget your face." She had been beaten so severely during the July 2002 attack that her eyes were swollen shut. Alexander was one of several witnesses to testify against Lee that day.
An AP Worldstream article claimed that on August 6, 2004 Lee interrupted the testimony of the coroner who examined DeSoto's remains to "ask the judge to fire his court-appointed lawyer." According to the article, Lee told the judge, "My life is on the line here" and that he wanted DeSoto's parents "to find out the truth about what happened to their daughter." Lee claimed that his lawyer lied to him and did not represent him properly, AP Worldstream reported. However, Lee and his lawyer were able to solve their problems and Tommy Thompson continued to represent him during the remainder of the trial.
Another of the more riveting moments of the trial came when DeSoto's husband, Darren, testified to how he found his wife's body. According to an August 6th AP Online article, Darren came home and found his wife lying on their bed in a "pool of blood." He was quoted in the article as saying, "I turned her head a little bit and at that moment I saw her throat was cut wide open." There's no doubt that his testimony made a lasting impression on the jury.
Just 4 days later the jury deliberated. Deslatte reported in an AP Worldstream article at the time that it took the jury just an hour and 40 minutes to come to a verdict. On August 8, 2004, 11 of the 12 jurors found Lee guilty of second-degree murder in the case of Geralyn DeSoto. Six days later, Judge Free sentenced Lee to life in Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, "without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence," Emily Kern reported in an August 2004 article.
During sentencing, DeSoto's family confronted Lee about the murder of their daughter. Kern reported that DeSoto's father, John Barr, "locked eyes with Lee and told him, 'You don't know how bad I want to get a little closer to you." He was further quoted as saying "Thank God my daughter gave her soul to Christ before you took it. We know where your soul is going.'"
Lee's trial for the murder of Charlotte Pace is scheduled for September 2004, where he faces first-degree murder charges. Kern stated that Lee also faces trial on November 3rd for the attempted rape and murder of Diane Alexander and faces another trial in 2005 for the slaying of Trineisha Colomb. Other trials are expected to follow.