Letter: Legal process hurts victims, families

There will be a hearing ­— yet another hearing — in the post-conviction appeals for Derrick Todd Lee, the DNA-convicted serial killer who murdered my daughter in 2002. No one doubts his guilt but Gary Clements and the Post Conviction Project have managed years of delay in this capital case.

They appeal detail after detail without regard for what it costs in money and legal time and certainly without regard for us, the families of the dead, who are as shackled by their actions to the Louisiana “justice” system as surely as the serial killer.

The Innocence Project predominantly utilizes DNA to exonerate wrongly convicted individuals. DNA and forensic science are powerful, neutral tools. I believe it should be an absolute obligation to test for DNA when it is available. It should be criminal not to.

The law should also be congruent with science on every front. If DNA exonerates, it should also permit timely execution of sentence. Our own DNA case has twice been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court through regular appeals.

Because the Louisiana legal system does not allow DNA the same power in execution of sentence as it does in exoneration, we allow death-penalty attorneys to hijack the system for years and then use their own delay tactics to argue that capital cases take too long and cost too much.

There seems little mercy or justice in the post-conviction process in Louisiana for the dead or for those who survive them.

Ann Pace

project administrator

Jackson, Miss.