Posted: Nov 29, 2010 6:32 AM by Nichole Larkey
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lynne Marino and Ann Pace share a unique bond forged by unimaginable tragedy and fueled by a deep love for their murdered daughters and a burning desire for justice.
Pace's daughter, 22-year-old Charlotte Murray Pace, was slain by reputed south Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee in May 2002.
Lee, who sits on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola for that murder, is suspected of killing Marino's daughter - 44-year-old Pam Kinamore - six weeks later.
Evidence of Lee's alleged slaying of Kinamore was introduced at his 2004 first-degree murder trial in the killing of Pace's daughter.
Ann Pace and Marino attended the Baton Rouge trial. When the New Orleans-based Louisiana Supreme Court heard Lee's direct appeal in 2007, Pace and Marino sat in the front row. The high court affirmed his conviction and death sentence in January 2008.
Lee now is seeking a new trial, and every time he returns to state District Judge Richard Anderson's courtroom for a post-conviction hearing, Pace and Marino sit side-by-side not far from the jury box where Lee sits.
Lee's next scheduled court appearance is Tuesday, and Pace - who lives in Jackson, Miss. - and Marino vow to be there.
"Both of us felt a unity of ferocity. We felt driven to fight for justice for our children," Pace, in a telephone interview last week from her Mississippi home, said in explaining the bond that developed between the two mothers.
"I hope that our bond and our activism is encouraging to anybody going through this because you can make a difference," Marino stressed during an interview last week in her home in Ascension Parish.
"I don't want people to forget these wonderful women," she said of her daughter, Pace's daughter and several other women that authorities assert were killed by Lee.
Marino described Pace as her "soul mate."
"I think the world of Ann. She's such a wonderful person," Marino said. "We don't talk often, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off."
Pace called her unbreakable bond and friendship with Marino a "gift."
"It's such a shock (to lose a child). It's such a horror. You need someone who understands that," Pace said. "In that kind of horror, you find friendships.
"If one of us would move away and we would not see each other
again," Pace added, "we'd still be friends."
Pace, a former LSU graduate student, was killed May 31, 2002, in her Sharlo Avenue home.
"He (Lee) killed her one week almost to the hour of her graduation from LSU," noted Ann Pace, who calls her daughter Murray.
"You really can't take in something like that," she said. "It changes the world. It's not the same world."
Kinamore disappeared July 12, 2002, from her home in Briarwood. Her body was found four days later under Interstate 10 near Whiskey Bay.
"Pam and I were particularly close," an emotional Marino said through tears. "It's still hard to look at her picture."
Lee, 42, of St. Francisville, was convicted in October 2004 of first-degree murder in Pace's killing. Evidence of four other slayings, including Kinamore's, and an attempted murder that Lee allegedly committed were introduced at the trial.
Marino said she is at peace with Lee not standing trial directly in the killing of her daughter.
"Why spend the state's money? I know he killed my child," she said. "That's why I'm adamant about him being put to death."
"They (opponents of the death penalty) claim the death penalty doesn't deter crime. If they (the state) used it, it would," Marino said, referring to the more than six years that have passed since Lee was condemned to die.
"Here I am 74-1/2 years old, and I'm still fighting for justice," she said.
Pace argued it is not rational to allow DNA evidence to work "so expeditiously" to exonerate someone accused of a crime while at the same time allowing a DNA-based conviction to be dragged out in the courts.
She called serial killers a "cancer" that must be excised.
Marino acknowledged that attending every court hearing in Lee's case has been "therapeutic."
"Chasing Derrick Todd Lee and speaking up was right for me. It's not right for everybody," she said.
Lee is suspected of killing seven south Louisiana women between 1998 and 2003, including Trineisha Dene Colomb, of Lafayette; Randi Mebruer, of Zachary; and Carrie Lynn Yoder and Gina Wilson Green, both of Baton Rouge.
He also was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in the Jan. 14, 2002, slaying of Geralyn Barr DeSoto, 21, of Addis.
In addition, Lee is accused of attempting to rape and kill Diana Alexander, of Breaux Bridge, who later testified against Lee at the DeSoto and Pace trials.