Case Files: Other

Updated: Jun 27


To be retried after 19 years because of the McGirt ruling.

Eula Bench & Thelma Sauls

In Lester's appeal (to Chris Ross and Bill Peterson) it was stated that:

"Pontotoc County authorities in Oklahoma are planning to seek the death penalty against Derrick Lester, accused of involvement in a murder when he was aged 15. In doing so, they will be violating international law which bans the use of the death penalty against those who were under 18 at the time of the crime. They would also be flouting the constitutional minimum age of 16 for the death penalty set by the US Supreme Court in 1988.

On 23 March 1999, at a Youthful Offender hearing, the judge ruled that Derrick Lester should be tried as an adult, as he was not convinced that the state’s Youthful Offender Program would protect the public from him. According to information received by Amnesty International, this was despite hearing evidence from six defense witnesses indicating that Derrick Lester is very amenable to rehabilitation. The state presented one doctor to refute this, but he was unable to deny that substantial rehabilitative progress could take place within a few years. Derrick Lester has no criminal record.

Derrick Lester’s father was murdered when he was seven years old. Three psychiatrists presented evidence at the hearing concerning the likely impact of this event, and the fact that the person believed to have been responsible has never been prosecuted. Two relatives and the foster father of Derrick Lester’s co-defendant also testified on the boy’s behalf at the hearing. Since his father’s death, Derrick Lester has effectively become a surrogate parent for his younger brother (10) and sister (nine).

Derrick Lester turned 16 on 28 January 1999. He is in Pontotoc County Jail, where he is held in isolation. No trial date has yet been set."


SOURCES: The Hunsucker Legal Group, The Ada News,, The Shawnee News Star, The World Population Review, The Oklahoman,, Court Junkie,,, OSCN, ODCR,

Click here to see the full interview with Jerrod Murray and read the transcript.

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