Darrell Lee Arizona Death Row

darrell lee

Darrell Lee was sentenced to death by the State of Arizona for a murder robbery. According to court documents Darrell Lee and Karen Thompson would kidnap John Calvin and force the man to give them his credit cards and debit card plus the pin number in order to make withdrawals at an ATM. John Calvin was bound and placed in the trunk of the car for eight hours. Darrell Lee attempted to make an escape when the vehicle stopped however he was caught by Darrell Lee. Lee would strangle John Calvin while Karen Thompson hit him repeatedly in the head with a rock. Darrell Lee would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.

Arizona Death Row Inmate List

Darrell Lee 2021 Information

ASPC Florence, Central Unit
PO Box 8200
Florence, AZ 85132
United States

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On December 5, 1991, defendant Darrel Lee and a companion, Karen Thompson, approached 57-year-old John Anderson as he was leaving a Phoenix medical clinic and asked him for a ride. When Anderson agreed, they got into his car. Although unarmed, Lee announced that he had a gun and directed Anderson to drive south on the freeway. When they arrived in Chandler, Thompson demanded Anderson’s wallet, which contained a small amount of cash, some credit cards, and an automatic teller machine (ATM) card. Thompson, accompanied by defendant, used the ATM and credit cards repeatedly throughout the next five days, both before and after Anderson’s murder.

At some point, defendant suggested that they tie up Anderson and dump him alongside the road. After binding his hands and feet and placing him in a ditch, however, the couple decided not to leave him there. Instead, they put him in the trunk of the car. During most of this time, Anderson was pleading for his life.

Darrell Lee and Thompson drove back to Phoenix and then toward California, stopping frequently to use cocaine and alcohol. They eventually decided to kill Anderson to avoid apprehension. Defendant stated that he would asphyxiate Anderson with the car’s exhaust fumes and obtained a hose for this purpose. The couple discussed the anticipated killing as they continued their journey. Approximately eight hours after placing Anderson in the trunk, defendant and Thompson turned back toward Phoenix.

Anderson somehow managed to get untied and pry open the trunk of the car. He found a windshield sun screen reading “NEED HELP; CALL POLICE,” and held it out of the vehicle. Two men in another car saw the sign and the frightened victim and called the police at the first available telephone. At approximately 11:45 p.m., two officers responded to the call. Because of darkness and rugged terrain in the area, however, they were able to conduct only a rudimentary search.

Meanwhile, Darrell Lee had exited the interstate highway and stopped the car at about 10:30 p.m. He and Thompson attempted to suffocate Anderson with car fumes by running the hose from the exhaust pipe into the trunk, but were unsuccessful because Anderson kept pushing up the trunk lid. During a pause in which the couple used more cocaine and discussed the situation, the victim escaped from the trunk and attempted to flee. Defendant chased Anderson and wrestled him to the ground. Thompson then brought defendant a belt, with which he attempted to strangle Anderson. The belt broke, and defendant yelled for Thompson to get a rock. As defendant choked Anderson with his hands, Thompson hit the victim in the head with the rock, fracturing his skull.

Defendant and Thompson placed the body in the trunk of the car. After driving to California, and then back to Phoenix, the couple eventually went to Tucson. There, they purchased a shovel and buried Anderson in a shallow grave outside the city.

The foregoing facts are taken primarily from Thompson’s testimony. Darrell Lee initially denied all participation in the crimes, later admitted some involvement with the car and the credit card spending in California, and finally confessed to a defense-requested psychiatrist that he was present during the murder and was holding Anderson down when Thompson struck him. Evidence found at the scene of the crime included the sun shield, pieces of a belt containing blood spatters, defendant’s prescription sunglasses, and a rock bearing blood and hair. Anderson’s trifocals were found in the trunk of the automobile, along with blood stains matching his type. Information given by Thompson after she entered into a plea agreement in April 1992 led to the discovery of the victim’s remains.

*553 On January 28, 1992, a La Paz County grand jury indicted Darrell Lee and Thompson on one count each of first-degree murder, kidnapping, theft, armed robbery, and credit card theft. Defendant pleaded not guilty to all charges. Thompson entered a plea of guilty to first-degree murder and armed robbery. A condition of her plea agreement was that she testify against defendant. On November 18, 1992, following a jury trial, defendant was convicted on all counts.


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