LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Ledell Lee, a prisoner on death row in Arkansas, today submitted a new request to the Arkansas parole board asking for new consideration of his application for clemency in light of new evidence that he has intellectual disability, and because of his innocence.
Over the course of his case, his attorneys repeatedly failed to raise his intellectual disability.
Ledell Lee has fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, significant brain damage, and significant intellectual disability.
Included in the package is a letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson from Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, a national non-profit with a 65-year history of promoting civil rights for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The letter urges Gov. Hutchinson to stay Lee’s execution based on the medical evaluation of Lee this month.
“Lee’s history is replete with evidence indicating a potential intellectual disability diagnosis, which would bring him under the protection of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions,” said Berns.
The evidence points to new information from Dr. Dale Watson, a neuropsychologist who said that under full evaluation Lee would likely meet the three requisites of an intellectual disability diagnosis: significantly impaired intellectual functioning, adaptive behavior deficits, and origination of the disability before the age of 18.
“Given the high likelihood of intellectual disability in this case, it is troubling that the lawyers who represented Mr. Lee throughout his trial failed to properly investigate evidence of Mr. Lee’s potential intellectual disability,” said Berns.
Attorneys for Lee argue that evidence of his intellectual disability must be explored fully. If the full evaluation confirms a diagnosis of intellectual disability, Lee’s death sentence would violate current prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Inadequate counsel is not a reason for someone to be put to death, and in the case of a person with intellectual disability like Lee, it would be unconstitutional.
“His intellectual disability alone should disqualify him from capital punishment. The state of Arkansas should not execute Mr. Lee before the new information related to his intellectual disability can be fully investigated and evaluated by a court. The execution of people with intellectual disabilities violates the constitution and basic human decency,” said Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project and Lee’s counsel.
This new information submitted to the clemency board was also provided to the federal court regarding the truncation in clemency procedures for eight Arkansas prisoners caused by the compressed schedule of executions of those eight prisoners in just 11 days this month.
A copy of the appeal filed is available here:
A copy of the letter from The Arc is available here:
Additional case files are available here: