Accused serial killer Derrick Todd Lee was back in court today as lawyers on both sides of the case met to iron out differences over evidence and where this trial should be held. Although both the defense and prosecution say this case is going "smoothly," there's still been no movement on the motion for a change of venue.
The District Attorney's Office and Lee's defense team are getting along well and have no problems to report to presiding Judge Richard Anderson. However, public defender Mike Mitchell says its not cooperation that's holding up his case for moving this trial - its money.
Mitchell says it's impossible for Lee to get a fair trial in Baton Rouge and that he could prove that if he had the cash to hire an expert to analyze the media coverage. Mitchell is still waiting for someone to give the public defender's office extra cash to handle Lee's defense.
Wearing a black polo shirt and khaki pants, Lee entered the courtroom looking very calm and at ease. After acknowledging his family Lee is said to have stared straight ahead or at his attorneys during the hearing. Lee is accused in the murders of six South Louisiana women: Gina Wilson Green, Charlotte Murray Pace, Pam Kinamore, Carrie Yoder (all of Baton Rouge); Dene' Colomb of Lafayette; and Geralyn DeSoto of Addis.
Lee is scheduled to stand trial March 1st for the first degree murder of Pace. Prosecutors believe her case to have the strongest and most compelling evidence to reach a conviction and death penalty against Lee.
Meanwhile, the next time the change of venue issue could surface is on December 10th when both sides meet back in court. But prosecutors are hoping not to tackle it until they go to seat a jury when trial starts. "It's a little late at that point. The trial is set for March 1st and we'd like to go to trial March 1st," said Mitchell.
East Baton Rouge 1st Assistant District Attorney John Sinquefield says, "Because we have a population base of 412,000 people to choose from, we can find jurors who meet the qualifications."
Prosecutors say plenty of local, high-profile murder cases have found impartial juries in Baton Rouge and they're confident Lee's case will be no different.
Alleged Victim of Accused Serial Killer To Help Prosecution
Also in court, prosecutors announced they have a new eyewitness to Lee's alleged crimes. The Breaux Bridge woman, who says she survived an attack from Lee on July 9th of last year - just days before Pam Kinamore was killed - is now cooperating with the prosecution in their case against Lee. Prosecutors and victims' families say this new witness makes their case against Lee much stronger.
"She's very courageous. She's righteously angry, she wants her day in court. She's agreed to be part of our case and we're grateful for that," said Ann Pace, mother of Charlotte Murray Pace.
The Breaux Bridge woman's story also helps the victims' families piece together how their daughters died. The police report says Lee knocked at her door, asked to use a phone and once inside - after realizing no one else was home - attacked. Evidence shows it's a ploy many of the other serial killer victim's may have also fallen for.
"That's why their phones were thrown away because he left fingerprints on them. She substantiated that," said Lynne Marino, mother of Pam Kinamore.