Prosecutors reflect on murder cases after Derrick Todd Lee's death

Prosecutors reflect on murder cases after Derrick Todd Lee's death
Tony Clayton (Source: WAFB)
Tony Clayton (Source: WAFB)
John Sinquefield (Source: WAFB)
John Sinquefield (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Thursday, two of the prosecutors who finally helped stopped serial killer Derrick Todd Lee reflected back to the days in 2002 and 2004 when they were in the courtrooms.

"I felt a relief for the victims and their families," Tony Clayton said.

"I'm relieved to know Derrick Todd Lee can never get out and can never harm anybody else again," John Sinquefield said.

Both of men helped make sure Lee would never kill again.

Clayton secured a life sentence for Derrick Todd Lee in 2002 for the killing of Geralyn Desoto. Then two years later, Sinquefield took Lee to trial for Charlotte Murray Pace's brutal murder getting him the death penalty in the end.

"It was probably one of the worst crime scenes I've ever seen," Clayton said.

Even 14 years later, Clayton said it's a case he can never forget.

"When I saw him in the courtroom and we had begun the trial, I'll have to tell that it was a chilling effect," Clayton said. "First thing I thought when I saw him was, I'm looking at a real live predator."

"There has been a lot of hype. There has been a lot of talk. Now it's time to play ball game," Sinquefield said in 2004 before the Charlotte Murray Pace murder trial started.

After getting a guilty verdict in the case, Sinquefield said "This is insurance with the case across the river that he will never be able to get out again and terrorize the citizens of south Louisiana."

"I remember every single day of that case and I'll remember it the rest of my life. I felt a huge responsibility. At one time, there were 600,000 people in South Louisiana that were terrified by the actions of this man," Sinquefield said Thursday.

In Sinquefield's more than 40 years prosecuting, memories of that specific case are the only ones in his office.

"Probably rates right at the top of my career."

Including a sketch from the courtroom, the newspaper clipping after the guilty verdict and a Home Run Hitters Award for his performance in the case.

It was Sinquefield's case that got Lee the death penalty.

"As far as the death penalty portion, believe it or not, the outcome was not as certain as a lot of people might believe so today," Sinquefield said. I guess I made the statement earlier, I hope it gives closure to the victim's family members, but it also allows me to finally close the case of South Louisiana Serial Killer."

"He wreaked utter havoc on South Louisiana and other parts of the country," Clayton said.

While he is relieved, Clayton does have one regret.

"The eerie part about this whole thing is now he's dead and he left here without explaining to these folks why and there are a whole bunch of bodies out there that he could have given some closure to these victims families about. He didn't do that. In a sense, he won. He left out of here. He didn't show any remorse and now he's gone and there will always be questions."

Lynne Marino, the outspoken mother of one of Lee's victims, often said she wanted to be the last face Lee saw here on Earth. She never got the chance, having died last Spring from cancer.

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