Just a little more than 5 years ago, Derrick Osborne was found murdered in Fairmont. Lincoln Taylor, Steven Podolsky, and LaFayette Jenkins, who were all involved with the case, have been released from prison. But one man, who some argue had the least to do with the actual crime, is still behind bars. 5 News Anchor/Reporter Whitney Wetze
l spoke exclusively with Donell Lee's family about why they feel his case isn't justified.
After learning that all three of the other men involved with Osborne's murder have been released from prison, Donell Lee's family was outraged.
"And my grandson's there for pointing his finger, where somebody lived?" said JoAnn Lee, Donell Lee's Grandmother.
On the night of May 28th, 2007, Derrick Osborne was shot multiple times in the Bellview area of Fairmont. According to investigators, four men were responsible for planning his murder.
Just a little more than two years ago, all four of these men were sentenced to some time in prison for their role in Derrick Osborne's murder. But Taylor, Jenkins, and Podolsky are free to walk the streets. But as for Donell Lee, he's left to spend at least the next 10 years behind bars.
"They're all out with their freedom, and my grandson is still locked up? It's not right," said JoAnn Lee.
"West Virginia, Fairmont has done a tremendous injustice to my son," said Ricky D. Clark, Donell Lee's Father.
Out of the four men involved, Donell Lee was the only one who was found guilty of both conspiracy to commit murder and first degree murder. According to court records, his only role in the crime was telling Lincoln Taylor where Osborne lived. Lee's attorney Sherman Lambert said even the prosecution admitted Lee did not shoot and kill Osborne, and wasn't even at the scene.
When asked why the Prosecuting Attorney would even pursue a trial against Donell Lee if he didn't think Lee had anything to do with the case, Lee's Attorney, Sherman Lambert said, "That's a very good question, madam. My answer to that question is because Mr. Lee would not plead guilty to something that he did not do, and that is the truth."
Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Pat Wilson declined to talk in depth about this case, since it's still on-going. However, he said "Every case stands alone on individual merits. Mr. Lee's case was tried before a jury, and the jury, based upon the evidence, found Mr. Lee guilty. Certainly Mr. Lee has every right to pursue appellate remedies as he so chooses to do."
Now that's exactly what his attorney is planning to do. Lambert has already filed several motions and appeals to Marion County Circuit Court, and West Virginia Supreme Court. All of those have been denied, but Lee's family still holds out hope.
"On that day, I would just drop to my knees and thank the Lord, because that would be the greatest day of my life, as soon as I can see my son," said Ricky D. Clark.
"It would make me the happiest person in the world. But once 'Nell comes home, I'll be the happiest person that ever walked," said JoAnn Lee.
Lambert recently sent a petition for appeal to the Attorney General's Office, which apparently agreed that the case wasn't fully and fairly litigated. So now, Lee's family is hoping the Supreme Court of Appeals will agree, and send the case back to Marion County Circuit Court.
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