Image: Suspected serial killer Derrick Todd Lee.
Ric Feld  /  AP file
Suspected serial killed Derrick Todd Lee, seen in a May 2003 photograph, faces execution for the stabbing death of a 22-year-old woman.
updated 10/15/2004 7:22:07 AM ET 2004-10-15T11:22:07

Already sentenced to life in prison for one murder, Derrick Todd Lee now faces execution for the beating and stabbing death of a 22-year-old woman after a jury rejected defense claims that he is mentally retarded.

The panel took just over 90 minutes Thursday night to decide on the death penalty for the suspected serial slayer.

As he was being taken from the courtroom, Lee held up the “V” sign for victory and shouted to his family, “God don’t sleep. ... They don’t wanna tell you about the DNA they took eight times,” continuing his suggestions that law enforcement planted the DNA evidence that helped convict him.

Lee’s mother and sister each shouted, “I love you,” while the victims’ family members gasped, cried and hugged each other in a courtroom packed with the relatives and more than a dozen sheriff’s deputies.

Lee, 35, was convicted for the first-degree murder of Charlotte Murray Pace, who was raped and riddled with more than 80 stab wounds in a brutal struggle throughout her home in May 2002.

He already faces a life sentence for his August conviction in the slaying of a woman in West Baton Rouge Parish.

Authorities have linked Lee to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003 by DNA evidence, and prosecutors introduced the gruesome details of four other killings in the Pace trial.

“I feel like they are finally, finally, finally given some moment of peace and justice,” said Pace’s mother, Ann.

Lee cried after he was removed from the courtroom, according to his lawyer Mike Mitchell, who said he wasn’t entirely surprised by the verdict.

“We wish the outcome had been different, but we accept the outcome as it is. Now, we’ll move on to the appeal,” Mitchell said outside of the courthouse, refusing to elaborate on the appeals issues.

The judge will formally sentence Lee to death on Dec. 10, and guards quickly shuttled Lee off to death row.

Jurors earlier in the day heard conflicting psychiatric testimony from defense and prosecution experts — two who said Lee is mentally retarded and two who said he is not. A 2002 Supreme Court decision forbids the execution of the mentally retarded.

In closing arguments, lead prosecutor John Sinquefield urged the jury to give Lee the death penalty, saying he was a “serial killer trying to hide behind a claim of mental retardation to escape the punishment he so richly deserves.”

Lee’s attorney pleaded for his client’s life.

“I don’t know what kind of evil must have descended upon that man to produce what you saw in those pictures. I do not understand that evil. I do not fathom that evil. But that evil is not defeated by sticking a needle in an arm,” attorney Bruce Unangst said.

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