A convicted killer who was on the run for more than two decades is headed to prison after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors.
Jerry Lee pleaded guilty Tuesday to shooting and killing 28-year-old Lorrie Ann Smith who was found dead inside her Fulton County home on May 25, 1997. As part of the plea deal, Lee was sentenced to 18 years in prison, but he could eventually be eligible for parole.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Lee’s plea deal came on the same day that opening statements were set to begin in the Fulton County trial.
On Wednesday, Channel 2 Action News spoke exclusively with Smith’s sister about getting justice for her loved one.
“It was good to see the man be handcuffed and taken away to prison,” Dana Bogensch told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden. “We waited for this for 26 years.”
Bogensch told Seiden that the plea deal guaranteed that Lee would serve prison time and prevent them from sitting through a heart-wrenching trial.
Channel 2 Action News has reached out to attorneys for Lee, but as of Wednesday evening, no one had responded to our requests for comment.
Smith was shot in the back in her bedroom at a home on Stonewall Tell Road. Police said there was no sign of forced entry, sexual assault or robbery.
It was clear Smith fought for her life. Police found a “significant amount” of the suspect’s blood at the scene, but without modern DNA testing, police were not able to make a match in the state database.
That’s where Ancestry.com came into play. Investigators took DNA they collected from the crime scene and sent it to a DNA testing company called Parabon, which found a similar strand of DNA in their system from someone trying to uncover their family tree.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
They connected the DNA to one of Lee’s relatives.
Police got a warrant to get Lee’s DNA and traveled to his home in Alabama to collect it.
He was arrested after a match was made.
IN OTHER NEWS: