THE DORIAN LESTER FUND
(a brief aperçu)
Dorian Lester and his co-defendant were arrested on 1 October 1997 and charged with murder (Lester's co-defendant and companion was originally charged with grand larceny, but when she declined to implicate and testify against him, she was then charged as a co-perpetrator).
Dorian Lester was provided with two court-appointed attorneys, Denise Lunsford and Tom Love, and in the run up to the trial, a more experienced attorney was added to the team, Steven Rosenfield (now retired).
The co-defendant was able to replace her court-appointed attorney with the renowned firm of Zwerling & Kemler (Lisa Kemler successfully defended Lorena Bobbitt, while John Zwerling is a criminal defense attorney of national stature and repute). This formidable team provided her defense and, on identical evidence, obtained an acquittal, completely opposite the verdict in the Lester case.
Weeks before his own trial, scheduled for April 1998, and when funds finally became available, Dorian Lester presented a pre-trial motion, requesting a postponement in order to retain and brief private counsel. The motion was denied, thus precluding Dorian Lester from exercising his right to adequate representation while facing the ultimate penalty - capital punishment.
Here follows a letter from Dorian Lester, addressed to Judge Swett. The letter has been sealed, and is unavailable for public scrutiny. However, we are in possession of the original draft...
In the final days of his trial, Dorian Lester approached the bench and requested the judge to declare a mistrial on the following grounds:
ALLOWED TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES.
Dorian Lester was convicted on purely circumstantial evidence. Key prosecution witnesses changed their testimony at the trial of his co-defendant, two months later, under the robust cross-examination of defense counsel. Police detectives were compelled to admit to falsifying records and manipulating witnesses.
The law is very clear on cases of circumstantial evidence - there must be proof beyond reasonable doubt in order to convict. However, during the jury selection process at the co-defendant's trial, a potential juror with a knowledge of the Lester trial, and the foreman of the jury, admitted that jurors were uncertain about his guilt... it was because of this that they had stopped short of handing down a recommendation for capital punishment.
Links to further background and details of this astonishing story:
Personal and professional background
Trial and court appointed (mis)representation