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Cover 06/12/2013

Murder Destroyed Charity Lee's Family, Forever Altered Her Concept of Justice

Photo: PHOTO COURTESY CHARITY LEE /BEN EASTER, License: N/A

PHOTO COURTESY CHARITY LEE /BEN EASTER

Photo: PHOTO COURTESY CHARITY LEE, License: N/A

PHOTO COURTESY CHARITY LEE

Paris and Ella, ages 10 and 2


Paris then called a friend to say he’d hurt his sister, a call police say lasted nearly six minutes. When he hung up, he waited two more minutes before calling 911 to report the murder.

Paris told officers he attacked Ella while in the throes of a vivid hallucination, that he was sleeping next to Ella when he woke to a terrifying scene: a demonic version of his sister, engulfed in flames, that was laughing maniacally at him. From their first reports, however, detectives doubted Paris’ version of things.

When he called 911, a dispatcher told Paris to move Ella from the bed, which was covered in blood, to the floor to perform CPR. “He was very resistant at first, but appeared to later comply with her request,” according to the report from one detective who listened to the dispatcher’s call. On the call, the dispatcher tells Paris to give Ella 30 chest compressions at a time. On tape, Paris can be heard counting out the compressions.

The detective, who responded to the scene of the crime, noted that there was almost no blood on the floor, and doubted Paris even attempted chest compressions “due to the fact that Ella was lying on her side and the fact that she had stab wounds on her back that would have leaked blood onto the floor during these compressions.”

One Abilene police officer who interviewed Paris the night of the murder wrote in his report, “At times during the interview process, Paris would appear as if he were attempting to cry; however, he did not appear to be sincere with these attempts. At no time did he have tears come to his eyes.”

Lee tried to believe Paris’ version of events. That changed when she got Ella’s autopsy report weeks later. “Before reading that, I had no idea Ella had suffered as much as she did,” she told me. Then, she read reports that detectives had discovered semen on the bed where they found Ella and inside the shorts Paris was wearing that night.

On her next visit to the nearby juvenile justice center, where Paris was being held before his sentencing and transfer to a youth correctional facility, Lee told her son, “I know you did this on purpose, I know you’re lying,” she recalled.

“Paris got quiet, then there was this whole shift in his demeanor,” Lee said. “It was like this whole other person took over. He just started laughing at me. He said, ‘Well it took you fucking long enough.’”

Paris grew violent when she asked about the semen detectives had found, flipping a table onto her before storming off and punching a wall, Lee says.

**

If what Paris did to Ella traumatized Lee, she felt further wounded by the justice system she was forced to work within.

Not only was she grieving the loss of her daughter, the victim of the crime, but she had forever lost the son she thought she had.

Meanwhile, the machinery of the criminal justice system kicked into gear — since he was 13, Paris’ case was adjudicated in juvenile, not adult, court.

“Paris’ defense attorney was, of course, concerned with getting Paris the lightest possible sentence he could,” she recalled. Meanwhile, the Taylor County district attorney was preoccupied with locking Paris up for as long as possible.

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