Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TOP STORY >> Executions set for local killers

Leader executive editor

Two men who killed two women in Jacksonville will be executed by lethal shots in April.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has scheduled execution dates for Marcell Wayne Williams, convicted in the 1994 killing of Stacy Errickson, and also for Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to die for the 1993 beating and strangling death of Debra Reese in the Sunnyside addition, where he had attacked several other women.

Lee, 51, is set to be executed April 20. Williams, 46, will be executed April 24.

Both men are on death row at the Varner Supermaximum Prison in Grady (Lincoln County).

Reese, 26, was struck 36 times with a tire tool her husband gave her for protection while he was driving a truck out of town. Lee, who had just been paroled after serving time for burglary, was arrested an hour after the murder when witnesses reported seeing him walking on the street.

A 1994 trial resulted in a mistrial when it was discovered a relative of Lee’s was on the jury. In 1995, the jury deliberated two hours before agreeing to the death sentence.

Lee, who went on a crime spree in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was also convicted of raping two Jacksonville women and was tried for the murder of Christine Lewis, the daughter of the late Alderman Robert Lewis. Lee was also suspected of killing a Jacksonville prostitute and dumping her body in a shed near the railroad tracks.

Lewis, 22, was abducted from her Sunnyside home in November 1989 as her 3-year-old child watched. She was raped and strangled and her body dumped in the closet of an abandoned home.

The jury could not agree on a verdict in that trial, but prosecutors decided not to retry him when he received the death sentence in the Reese case and was convicted for raping two women. DNA evidence tied Lee to the murders and rapes.

Williams was found guilty in the capital murder, kidnapping, rape and aggravated robbery of Stacey Errickson, 22, who was married to an airman at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Williams was tried in Pulaski County Circuit Court, and appealed the convictions to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which affirmed the jury’s death sentence in 1999.
According to that ruling, evidence showed Errickson died from strangulation. Her neck and face were deeply bruised, and her hands were tied behind her back.

According to Supreme Court documents, the victim’s nightmare began when she stopped at the Jacksonville Shellstop for gas around 6:45 a.m. on Nov. 20, 1994.

Williams approached Errickson’s vehicle, pulled a gun and had her move from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s side.

He drove the vehicle away from the gas station, taking the victim to several ATMs, where she withdrew $360 in 18 transactions that were recorded on security cameras.

The last transaction was made at 7:37 p.m.
Errickson didn’t come into work that day or pick her child up from the babysitter.

Williams was arrested for a warrant a few days later on Nov. 29.

He was questioned because physical evidence linked him to two other assaults involving women.

After a 13-hour interrogation during which Williams took police to a house in Little Rock, where he told officers he thought Errickson might be, Williams admitted to abducting and robbing her.
He also said she was alive to the best of his knowledge.

Williams denied raping the victim and confided that accomplices had physically harmed her. Evidence showed Errickson was assaulted at a storage facility.

Her body was found in a shallow grave on Dec. 5 in North Little Rock.

According to court documents, two witnesses testified that they saw Williams at the gas station before Errickson was kidnapped. They said he followed them in a car and attempted to stop them, until they drove onto the air base.

Williams’ trial was held on Jan. 6, 1997. The jury learned then that he had four prior felony convictions.

The aggravating circumstances prosecutors presented and the Supreme Court upheld were that Williams had committed another felony, an element of which was use or threat of violence to another person; the murder was committed to avoid or prevent his arrest; the murder was committed for monetary gain; and the murder was committed in an especially cruel or depraved manner.

(Former Leader staff writer Sarah Campbell contributed to this report.)