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Author Topic: West Memphis 3, West Memphis, AR Case  (Read 15149 times)
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« on: January 16, 2011, 11:25:04 PM »

West Memphis 3 Case Profiled by CNN

Reported by: CNN
Saturday, January 15 2011

Click here to watch this report, or read the transcript below:

People on death row have a lot of time to think. Damien Echols is no different.

Since his conviction for the 1993 murders of three 8-year-old boys, Echols has been fighting to keep his thoughts moving forward: to study, to grow intellectually and to distance himself from the bitterness that threatens to consume him.

Echols was one of three teenagers convicted for that crime. They became known as the "West Memphis Three," probably the most feared and hated kids to ever walk into an Arkansas courtroom.

The crime they were accused of was particularly heinous: the boys' bruised and mutilated bodies were found in May 1993 in West Memphis, Arkansas, their arms and legs bound with their own shoelaces.

Echols was the only one sentenced to die, believed to be the ring leader in murders driven by a worship of Satan.

That was almost 18 years ago.

Today Echols spends 23 hours a day alone in a cell with nothing to do but ponder all he's lost and wonder if the Arkansas Supreme Court will be the key that finally sets him free.

Later this year, an Arkansas Supreme Court judge will determine if Echols and the rest of the West Memphis Three should have their convictions thrown out.

Prosecutors would then have the chance to retry them all and since they were sent to prison, the cases against them seem to have fallen apart.

Echols' attorneys plan to present DNA evidence not available at the time of the trial, as well as testimony that they say supports arguments that Echols and the two others are innocent.

'West Memphis Three' cases receive new hearing

On a dreary, overcast day in late November, I was allowed to talk to Echols for two hours about his conviction, his hopes and his most hated question -- the one he fears will follow him for the rest of his life, whether he is freed or not. I wasn't sure what to expect.

An advocate who arranged my interview with Echols cautioned that "Damien does not suffer fools gladly."

I remember thinking how pale and gaunt Echols, now 36 years old, appeared as he was escorted down a hallway to a seat behind a thick glass wall.

The handcuffs left bright red marks on his pale skin after they were removed.

"That looks like it hurt," I said. Looking down and rubbing his wrist, Echols replied softly, "It does."

He seemed a little surprised I would notice something like that. Echols says he has given hundreds of interviews, so many that there seems to be no question he would not be prepared to answer.

The one question that has always bothered him the most also is the most obvious: Did you kill those children? Echols believes the answer should be equally obvious.

Echols: After all the new evidence that we have that's come up now, it feels to me like I shouldn't have to answer that anymore, that people should be able to look at the evidence now and know that I didn't do it, without having to ask me that. I don't know. I don't know.

Mattingly: People are going to be watching you right now. They're going to be asking that question in their minds. They're going to be judging you.

Echols: I know.

Mattingly: I'll just ask you the question. Did you kill those boys?

Echols: No, I didn't. No, I didn't.

Mattingly: When you answer that, what's different now, compared to when you were on trial? Do you think people are listening now, who might not have been listening before?

Echols: I think so. I think you have some people now who are looking at the evidence, who do. It's been long enough for people to get past their emotions.

The evidence Echols talks about is DNA and the fact that not a single tiny cell was recovered from the crime scene that belonged to the three convicted teens.

Police did find a hair on one of the bodies that was a possible match to the stepfather of one of the victims.

The emotion Echols refers to is the fear and raw anger of a public that he believes was out for his blood. The investigation, arrests and trials fueled the outrage, producing nightly reports of grisly details and shocking headlines.

Echols seemed immune to it during his trial, appearing only to be what he describes as a "smart-ass" and "white trash" 18-year-old.

But some wounds cut to the bone and today his scars seem just as deep.

Echols was so interview-savvy that I was surprised when he suddenly got emotional.

Mattingly: Are my questions upsetting you right now?

Echols: It's hard. (pause) And I don't know why. Because you would think I'd be used to this by now. (long pause) I don't know. It-- it's hard. It-- it-- it-- like I said, it doesn't get any easier. And you would think I would be used to this by now. But-- you don't get used to this. (sighs)

And it does continue to get worse as time goes by. Knowing that -- you know, even if I were to go to trial today, and we were to present all this new evidence, and they were to find us not guilty, I would still, for the rest of my life, have people looking at me and asking me these questions about me, thinking these things about me. There's no way to-- for them to undo what's been done.

If the Arkansas Supreme Court dismisses his conviction and orders a new trial for the three men, it would be extremely rare.

But so far, Echols has beaten the odds.

Consider that under normal circumstances, my interview would have never taken place. Echols was originally scheduled to be executed in 1994.

Instead he sits alone in his cell while possibly thousands follow his case. He has won the support of celebrities like Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder. Echols is also married to a woman who left her job and life behind to fight for him in Arkansas.

Not bad for a "smart-ass" "white trash" convicted killer.

Mattingly: If the court does eventually decide that you are innocent, you know what that means?

Echols: What?

Mattingly: That the killer is still out there.

Echols: Oh. Exactly. Yeah.

Mattingly: What would you want for that killer?

Echols: That's a hard question. Because my first instinct would be that he have to suffer everything that I've had to suffer for the past almost 18 years now. But I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be that angry. I don't want to be that bitter.

Easier said than done. There are people who remain convinced of his guilt and want him to die. That will never change.

After our interview, there was one comment from Echols I couldn't forget.

"I miss the stars," he said. "You know, I haven't seen the stars in years and years and years. I miss the rain. I miss food. I miss all these things. But what it comes down to the most -- and this is the thing that will scar me the most and that I'll carry with me as a scar the longest -- the thing I miss the most is being treated like a human being."
http://arkansasmatters.com/news-fulltext?nxd_id=383707   
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 11:39:49 PM »

John Douglas doesn't get paid to be popular.

Good thing.

He riles police and unnerves communities -- among them West Memphis.

A national pioneer in criminal profiling, the former FBI supervisor says his only loyalty is to the truth.

For a quarter of a century, when police across the nation encountered hard-to-solve murders, he was the go-to guy. As the first full-time profiler at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., his mission was to get inside the minds of killers to determine who they were and why they took lives.

He has his own theory about the motive and type of person who killed three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis in 1993. Hint: He says it's not the West Memphis Three.

Douglas is the inspiration for the character Jack Crawford, the sage sleuth who teaches Clarice Starling and other new FBI profilers techniques to hunt serial killers in "Silence of the Lambs."
Documents

    * Court documents show the type of person a former FBI expert believes murdered three 8-year-old boys. It's not the West Memphis Three.

John Douglas was the first full-time profiler at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.

John Douglas was the first full-time profiler at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
Members of the Charles Manson 'family' kept a vigil at the Los Angeles Hall of Justice during Manson's 1971 trial. Upon meeting Manson, John Douglas was surprised that he towered over the diminutive man whose powerful personality converted so many individuals to his 'family.' Manson, scrawny and just 5-foot-2, satisfied his need for control when interviewed by the 6-foot-2 Douglas, by sitting on top of his chair back.


Members of the Charles Manson "family" kept a vigil at the Los Angeles Hall of Justice during Manson's 1971 trial. Upon meeting Manson, John Douglas was surprised that he towered over the diminutive man whose powerful personality converted so many individuals to his "family." Manson, scrawny and just 5-foot-2, satisfied his need for control when interviewed by the 6-foot-2 Douglas, by sitting on top of his chair back.
John Douglas says he was the first to learn that Ted Bundy, a serial killer who confessed to more than 30 murders, engaged in necrophilia. Bundy was executed in 1989.

John Douglas says he was the first to learn that Ted Bundy, a serial killer who confessed to more than 30 murders, engaged in necrophilia. Bundy was executed in 1989.
John Douglas, whose profile for the murderer of as many as 30 young black residents of Atlanta in the 1980s bucked conventional wisdom, finally convinced police to stake out area lakes where they arrested Wayne B. Williams.

John Douglas, whose profile for the murderer of as many as 30 young black residents of Atlanta in the 1980s bucked conventional wisdom, finally convinced police to stake out area lakes where they arrested Wayne B. Williams.
John Douglas believes JonBenet Ramsey's family is not to blame in the death of the 6-year-old beauty queen and that the police have bungled the investigation to the point where the crime may never be solved.

John Douglas believes JonBenet Ramsey's family is not to blame in the death of the 6-year-old beauty queen and that the police have bungled the investigation to the point where the crime may never be solved.
John Douglas has made a career of getting inside the minds of the likes of Edward Gein (right), the Wisconsin farmer who inspired the book and movie 'Psycho.' Gein admitted slaying two women and dismembering their bodies, as well as robbing graves.

John Douglas has made a career of getting inside the minds of the likes of Edward Gein (right), the Wisconsin farmer who inspired the book and movie "Psycho." Gein admitted slaying two women and dismembering their bodies, as well as robbing graves.

He turned down a role in the movie, but in real life he's accepted as many invitations as possible to help track some of the nation's most menacing and elusive predators.

He developed the psychological profile that ultimately helped nab the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, though his fellow agents were initially skeptical of his unorthodox methods.

Douglas discovered that by analyzing crime scenes, reports and autopsy photos, he could decipher personality traits of the criminal and predict the type of victim the killer would be hunting next.

He also tries to get into the minds of the victims, including reliving their final moments.

He even works in his sleep, trying to dream about cases in hopes that some clue might pop up in his subconscious mind. He keeps a notepad by his bed in case he jolts awake with ideas.

That often leads to sleepless nights and horrifying nightmares. For Douglas, it's part of the job of hunting the most savage among us.

Douglas said other agents, trained to gather facts through traditional interviews, viewed his mind-probing techniques as "voodoo science" or "BS." When he was promoted to take over the operational side of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime's Behavioral Science Unit, he changed the name to the Investigative Support Unit, to remove the initials "BS."

Retired FBI agent Bob Campbell, a polygraph expert, said he was among those leery of profiling to get into the mind of a killer.

"The sociopath is really hard to get a grip on," said Campbell, who worked in New York and in the Southeast. "If you're depending on your instincts, they're probably going to beat you most of the time because they're reading you better than you're reading them."

"Investigation is really the only go-to standard that we have. I mean, facts are facts."

Campbell, an agent for 33 years, pointed to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing case in Atlanta. Investigators labeled security guard Richard Jewell a suspect, based on his matching a criminal profile by an FBI agent other than Douglas.

"The profilers were saying: 'You got the guy,' " Campbell said of Jewell. "That's a good example of rushing to judgment."

Years later, Jewell was vindicated with the confession of Eric Robert Rudolph. But Jewell's reputation was damaged, while Rudolph had time to kill a police officer and injure six more victims.

Investigations consultant Vernon Geberth, a retired NYPD homicide commander, said he trains officers from all over the country to be skeptical of profiles.

"It's a tool, but there have been profiles that have been absolutely wrong," said Geberth, who spent 23 years with New York's police force.

"I'm a real murder cop," said Geberth, who oversaw thousands of homicide investigations in the Bronx. "When you're actually standing at a homicide scene, talking to victims' families and suspects, it's a helluva lot different than analyzing photos after the fact."

Douglas has heard it before. His techniques and conclusions, heralded by some, have long angered many prosecutors and his brethren in blue. His findings can shatter confidence in an arrest or conviction.

Atlanta police who were hunting a serial killer of children thought Douglas was way off base. And, Douglas said, his opinions on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case made him "the most hated man in America."

Still, he doesn't waver.

When defense attorneys for Arkansas death row inmate Damien Echols asked Douglas, now a private consultant, to analyze the 1993 murders of three 8-year-old West Memphis boys, he put them on notice. He would accept a consultation fee, but his opinion couldn't be bought. He would be blunt and unyielding -- even if he concluded that Echols and his co-defendants, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., are appropriately behind bars.

Ultimately, Douglas became convinced of the innocence of the so-called West Memphis Three, all teenagers when convicted in 1994.

"What I do know is that there are three teens who are now in their 30s sitting in prison who don't belong there," Douglas said during a recent interview. "It really disturbs me."

He said he has several reasons for believing a lone killer has gotten away with murder.

In 2007, he trekked through the crime scene, examined police and autopsy reports and crime scene photos, and interviewed several people, including relatives of all three victims.

He had dreaded approaching the parents. As he drove across the bridge from Memphis toward West Memphis, he remembers thinking: "They're going to kick me in the pants and kick me off the porch."

One victim's parent, John Mark Byers, restricted Douglas to the porch for hours before trusting him enough to allow him inside. Byers now admits he didn't want to believe the real killer was still at large.

Douglas went over all of the evidence and his findings, and now Byers, who once shouted for Echols to go to hell, is one of Echols' supporters.

Prosecutors still contend that Echols, then 18, Baldwin, then 16, and Misskelley, then 17, teamed to sexually abuse, beat and mutilate the boys, whom they didn't know, in a planned satanic ritual. The medical examiner has testified that Christopher Byers bled to death after being sexually mutilated, while Stevie Branch and Michael Moore drowned.

Defense attorneys have since consulted with five medical experts who say the boys were not sodomized or stabbed and, instead, animals had torn at their bodies after they were tossed into a muddy reservoir. They say all three boys were struck in the head, causing lethal skull fractures, and two of the victims drowned.

The victims were naked and their wrists were tied to their ankles with their shoe laces. Their clothes were hidden in the muddy water, wrapped at the end of large sticks -- something Douglas believes shows criminal sophistication, not teenage impulse.

Douglas believes a lone killer -- someone the boys knew -- attacked them in a fit of rage.

He believes the murders were unplanned. His theory is that the killer didn't feel respected by his boss, his co-workers, his wife or his children, and then the victims didn't respond to his orders -- unleashing a mounting and powerful rage.

"I think the anger was from the kids not following instructions," Douglas said.

The afternoon of the murders, Christopher was supposed to be at home picking up trash in the yard. Michael was due at home for supper at 6 p.m. Stevie was told he would be grounded if he wasn't home at 4:30 p.m. But all three were seen riding their bicycles as late as 6:30 p.m.

"This is not a sexually motivated crime," Douglas said. "This was more of a punishment, a degrading act to teach a lesson."

He believes it would have been easy for an adult, a figure of authority, to control three kids. Once they were made to strip, they would be reluctant to run.

And once they were tied up, there would be no escape.

He believes the killer used the butt of a gun or end of a closed knife to strike the boys in the head.

"Perhaps one of the kids was struck too hard and would go home and tell," he said. "Now you've gotten to the point of no return."

Douglas thinks the killer has a violent history and likely feels no remorse. According to Douglas, he is a skilled liar, who has justified the killings in his own mind and would pass a lie detector test with ease.

Douglas has a suspect in mind whom he believes merits further investigation.

"I feel certain" that it isn't Echols, he said. "That's the easy part. The hard part is getting the perpetrator, getting the evidence and convicting them."

Justice hasn't been satisfied yet in one of America's best-known unsolved cases, that of JonBenet Ramsey, killed in the basement of her Colorado home on Christmas, 1996.

Douglas' conclusions in the case have pitted him against local police and even a fellow former FBI criminal profiler.

Douglas said others were fixated on the 6-year-old child beauty queen's parents, John and the late Patsy Ramsey, citing the statistical probability that a child, especially a young child, is most likely to be killed by a family member, particularly a parent.

Attorneys for the victim's father flew Douglas to Boulder, Colo. He concluded that the culprit or culprits were likely seeking revenge on John Ramsey, a wealthy executive.

One of Douglas' most controversial findings was in Atlanta.

In the 1980s, young black children and teens were being snatched off streets and even from their homes and strangled, shot or beaten to death. Body after body piled up and Atlanta area police were stymied, sending the community into a panic. Theories began to surface that it was an act of racial hatred by the Ku Klux Klan.

Not so, according to Douglas.

Many local cops wanted the Brooklyn-born, big-city federal guy to leave town fast. Few wanted to hear what he had to say: that one of their own was to blame, a cunning but unsuccessful black man from the area, not a white stranger motivated by hatred.

"It was a case that so engulfed everyone in the community," said Paul Howard, Atlanta's top prosecutor.

"People, including law enforcement, said he didn't know what he was doing, that he was crazy," Howard, then a fledgling prosecutor, said of Douglas.

"He was really out on a limb when he released his findings."

Police eventually took Douglas' advice to stake out area bridges, anticipating the killer would start tossing bodies in water. That's how police nabbed Wayne Williams, an intelligent but unsuccessful local black man -- as Douglas had predicted.

The veteran prosecutor credits Douglas with helping to stop a serial killer whom he blames for at least 30 murders, though Williams was only prosecuted for two.

Williams, serving back-to-back life sentences, insists he is innocent and still has many followers.

That doesn't faze Douglas.

In one of his books, "The Cases That Haunt Us," he wrote: "A criminal investigator has only one responsibility.... It has only to do with the silent pledge made by the investigator to the victim ... that he or she will do everything within his or her power to uncover the truth of what happened and bring the offender to the gates of earthly justice."

So when Echols' attorneys recently lobbied the Arkansas Supreme Court for a new trial, they got a new ally. Douglas, who spent the majority of his career aiding police and prosecutors, joined the defense team.

Echols' lead attorney, Dennis Riordan, argued that he has new DNA evidence and witnesses -- and Douglas' 19-page analysis.

In a rare move Thursday, the high court ordered an evidentiary hearing, a mini-trial, for Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley. Douglas could be one of the witnesses.

Douglas retired in 1995 after 25 years with the FBI. He was the unit chief for the operational side of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, overseeing more than 40 agents, including a dozen profilers.

Annually, Douglas was supervising profiles in about 1,000 major crimes, including dozens of child murders.

By comparison, West Memphis police had investigated six homicides in 1992, the year before the boys died.

At Echols' new hearing, defense attorneys are hoping Douglas' extensive experience will be a trump card.

Beth Warren is a reporter for The Commercial Appeal. Contact her at 529-2383.

---------------------------------------------

Who is John Douglas?

As a pioneering FBI criminal profiler, John Douglas has overseen thousands of kidnappings, serial rapes, bombings and murders -- including the 1982 Tylenol poisoning deaths.

His profile helped nab Sedley Alley, executed in 2006 for the 1985 beating, rape and strangulation of Suzanne Marie Collins, a 19-year-old Marine lance corporal stationed at Millington.

He has interviewed Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Ed Gein, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz and James Earl Ray.

He helped Scotland Yard track a London serial killer.

He will soon travel to Italy to assist attorneys who are fighting to free Amanda Knox, an American student convicted of helping to kill her roommate.

Douglas has written many books, including true crimes.

He also has served as a technical adviser for actress Jody Foster in the movie "Silence of the Lambs" and Stanley Tucci for "The Lovely Bones."

Producers are now working on a possible TV series based on his life.
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/nov/07/profiler-convinced-innocence-west-memphis-three/ 
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 11:43:05 PM »

In bid for new trial, West Memphis Three granted rare new hearing

    * By Beth Warren
    * Memphis Commercial Appeal
    * Posted November 4, 2010 at 9:10 a.m., updated November 4, 2010 at 11:22 p.m.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/nov/04/west-memphis-three-granted-rare-hearing-arkansas-s/

It took a small, dedicated army to get Arkansas death row inmate Damien Echols a rare second chance.

The Arkansas Supreme Court announced its decision Thursday to grant an evidentiary hearing, or mini-trial before a judge, to the infamous West Memphis Three of Echols and his friends, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr.

All three have been imprisoned for 17 years for the murders of three 8-year-old West Memphis boys.

"It's very unusual," Arkansas legal expert John Plegge, a retired Circuit Court judge from Pulaski County, said of the decision.

Echols' wife, Lorri Davis, watched the court's announcement live via Internet video streaming on her home computer in Little Rock.

"I'm pretty happy," she said. "We're excited."

She later issued a statement for Echols, saying: "It is the best news he has heard in his case in the 17 years he has been on death row."

John Mark Byers, adopted father of victim Christopher Byers, said he also was elated while watching the hearing online from his Millington home.

"It's a very positive move toward what I hope will be justice for three children ... that the guilty parties are found and punished," Byers said.

Byers once danced on mock graves for the three defendants, but now is convinced they're innocent based on new DNA evidence.

The high court ruled that Echols and his co-defendants will get to lobby a local Circuit Court judge for a new trial based on new DNA evidence on human hairs that don't belong to the defendants. They will appear before a new judge because the initial trial judge now is a state legislator.

"Now we have seven justices saying: 'This case needs to be looked at,'" Byers said. "I feel that today the scales of justice began tilting in the correct direction."

The defendants will also get the chance to test more DNA evidence, fibers and animal hairs, which they asked to test years ago.

In a surprise move, Chief Supreme Court Justice Jim Hannah wrote that the issue of jury bias also can be considered.

Legal observers predicted the high court would stay clear of the issue of jury misconduct because jury deliberations are considered secret.

"They don't typically go behind a jury verdict to determine why the jury got there," said Debra Reece, an adjunct law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Lloyd Warford, the jury foreman's family attorney, has filed an affidavit with the high court, alleging that the foreman talked at length about questionable jury conduct.

Defense attorneys used the affidavit to charge that the foreman, Jonesboro real estate developer Kent Arnold, manipulated his way onto the jury, improperly discussed the case before jury deliberations had begun and persuaded other jurors to convict on inadmissible evidence.

That evidence was the confession of Misskelley, who has been described as borderline mentally +++++++. Misskelley was interrogated for 12 hours and later recanted and refused to testify against Echols and Baldwin.

Reece, a former Arkansas Supreme Court law clerk, said the jury misconduct issue alone should be enough for a Circuit Court judge to grant a new trial.

"This jury foreman has revealed that Damien Echols was convicted on evidence never presented at trial," the professor said. "That's the troubling thing about all of this."

The justices made it clear that Echols and his friends don't have to prove their innocence. Prosecutors carry the burden of proving guilt.

"The question is whether a new jury would find Echols guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Justice Ronald L. Sheffield wrote.

Defense attorneys Dennis Riordan and Donald Horgan issued a joint statement urging state prosecutors to stipulate to unresolved issues, such as the new DNA, and join them in asking a judge for a new trial without an evidentiary hearing.

The San Francisco-based defense attorneys wrote: "We look forward to entering into good faith discussions with the Arkansas authorities to achieve that end."

In his own statement, Atty. Gen. Dustin McDaniel said, in part: "My office intends to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to defend the jury verdicts in this case."

A date for the hearing has not yet been set.

During a recent interview from death row, Echols said he feels sure he would have already been executed if not for an HBO documentary about the case.

"Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills" inspired a legion of supporters who have signed a petition for a new trial and have contributed money to help with legal expenses, including investigators who have discovered new evidence.

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, two documentary filmmakers from New York, headed to West Memphis in 1993 after hearing that three teens were charged with killing the three boys in a satanic ritual.

"We came down here thinking we were doing a story on rotten teenagers accused of devil-worshipping murders," Berlinger said.

But soon the filmmakers began to doubt the teens' guilt, he said.

"There were so many holes in this case."

--Beth Warren: 529-2383
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 11:45:47 PM »

The victims an angelic monkey
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 12:33:00 AM »

New DNA evidence could link victim's stepfather to 1993 child murders

    * By Marc Perrusquia
    * Memphis Commercial Appeal
    * Posted October 30, 2007 at 12:01 a.m.

   http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2007/oct/30/another-twist-the-west-memphis-3-the-victims/ 
New DNA evidence filed Monday offers fresh hope to three men who claim they were wrongly convicted in the horrific 1993 West Memphis child murders and points an accusing finger at a stepfather who sat through two sensational trials as a grieving parent.

Evidence filed today offers fresh hope to three men who claim they were falsely convicted.

Defense lawyers say two hairs -- evidence that looms large in a case long devoid of physical evidence -- link the stepfather to the crime scene where the bodies of three 8-year-old boys were found nude and hogtied in a watery ditch.

Forensic scientists retained in a new defense bid to overturn the convictions also contend that state pathologists and prosecutors made grave errors in analyzing wounds on the murdered boys' bodies.

The bodies bore hundreds of wounds including a reported castration -- evidence of a ritualistic, satanic slaying, prosecutors asserted at trial.

The prosecution's theory of a satanic motive was key to the convictions of then-teenagers Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, all widely rumored to have been involved in cult activities. The three, all now in their 30s, are in prison; Echols on death row.

However, forensic reports offered by the defense attribute nearly all those injuries to predators -- possibly dogs or raccoons -- that fed on the bodies in the hours after the murders.

"I have never thought that they (the three defendants) were guilty,'' said Jo Lynn McCaughey, an aunt of one of the murdered boys, who attended a three-hour meeting Monday afternoon in Memphis where Echols' defense team revealed results of DNA testing to the victims' families.

"I've always said we didn't lose three boys that day, we lost six. We lost them to injustice.''

West Memphis Asst. Police Chief Mike Allen said he hasn't received full details of the DNA testing yet and that he stands by the convictions.

"I personally think they do have the three right individuals in jail,'' said Allen, who in 1993 was a young police detective who helped investigate the triple slaying.

He said defense lawyers are trying to make a suspect out of Terry Hobbs, a stepfather of one of the victims, just as they had once pointed fingers at another parent, John Mark Byers.

"It's just like Mark Byers; for 14 years they tried to make him a suspect,'' Allen said, dismissing new defense claims that two hairs now link Hobbs to the crime scene.

Defense lawyers say they can't prove Hobbs had any involvement in the murders, yet DNA testing by their experts determined that Hobbs was among less than 1 percent of the population who couldn't be excluded as the donor of a hair fragment found on one of the bodies. A second hair found nearby likely came from one of Hobbs' friends, testing found.

News of the first hair broke this summer, and Hobbs told reporters then that his hair could have landed on any of the boys through normal contact with them while they were alive.

However, news of the second hair -- reportedly from a friend who was playing guitar with Hobbs in the hours before the boys disappeared -- adds intrigue to an already explosive case.

"It's questionable that even that the (first) hair they found was that of Hobbs,'' Allen said, yet when asked of the second hair, he said, "I don't know if it would be explainable or not.''

Hobbs couldn't be reached Monday. A cell phone he carried earlier this year was disconnected.

Also sitting through the evidence meeting Monday was Byers, a stepfather who later adopted victim Christopher Byers. Maintaining the defendant's innocence, defense attorneys and filmmakers long pointed a finger at Byers after he gave a bloody knife to a film crew.

Now bald and sporting a goatee, the once-loquacious Byers brushed aside reporters' questions, saying, "At this moment, I have no comment.''

The new defense evidence is incorporated in a suit filed late Monday in federal court in Little Rock seeking the release of the defendants, known as the West Memphis Three. The move is backed by a growing network of supporters including some well-known and wealthy Hollywood actors like Jack Black and rock musician Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

The three, all indigent and represented by court-appointed counsel at trial, now have a defense with deep pockets and resources to attract big names in the forensic pathology and to conduct expensive DNA testing. Scientific testing in the case was authorized in a 2004 court order and has taken years to complete.

From the moment the bodies of West Memphis second-graders Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Steve Branch were pulled from a rainy-weather creek in a patch of woods along Interstate 40 on May 6, 1993, the case has stirred great fear and unending legal twists.

Jessie Misskelley (from left), Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin sit at the defense table in a Jonesboro, Ark., courtroom on Oct. 19, 1993.

Now there are several more.

The prosecutions hinged on a confession by Misskelley, a troubled youth with a low IQ, who told police how he watched as Echols and Baldwin brutalized the boys in an attack that included sexual assault, wounds inflicted with a knife and the castration of Byers.

Yet in a lengthy petition for writ of habeas corpus -- a federal maneuver that allows a convict to seek relief from unlawful detention -- Echols' lawyers argue that most of the wounds prosecutors attributed to ritualistic murder were inflicted by small animals after the boys died.

Assembling a team of leading forensic scientists -- including Dr. Michael Baden, the celebrated former chief medical examiner of New York City and noted pathologist Dr. Vincent DiMaio -- the defense experts concluded that most of the key wounds and many gouges, abrasions and scratches were afflicted postmortem.

"Animal predation rather than use of a knife also accounted for the severe genital injury to victim Christopher Byers,'' wrote Echols' California defense lawyers, Dennis P. Riordan and Donald M. Horgan. "In addition, the experts all concluded that none of the victims had exhibited injuries consistent with sexual abuse ...''

The reported castration of Christopher Byers has long puzzled students of the case. The unusual and ragged injury prompted state pathologist Dr. Frank J. Peretti to testify at trial that the procedure would have taken him hours to perform under pristine conditions in a lab.

Defense experts commented that the removal was done in a manner similar to industrial accidents known as "degloving.''

The defense team contends in its filing that the "new forensic evidence exposes most of the testimony introduced against Echols as perjured, fraudulent, or of no probative value.''

The lawyers take the prosecution to task on several fronts, including the use of state witness, Dale Griffis, a self-described expert in occult killings. Griffis testified the killings had the "trappings of occultism,'' noting they occured near the time of a full moon and citing the castration and numerous injuries as evidence of ritualistic "overkill.''

"That the testimony of an utter charlatan like Griffis was offered to the jury as a basis for executing a human being is one of the most appalling aspects of this deeply disturbing case,'' the lawyers wrote.

John Fogleman, a prosecutor on the case and now a Circuit Court judge, declined comment Monday. His partner on the case, Brent Davis, couldn't be reached.

The two hairs linked to Hobbs with help from DNA laboratories in Virginia and California also may help tip the balance of the case, defense lawyers wrote. "That is an exculpatory fact of great importance," defense attorneys wrote.

In a case light on physical evidence, the hairs loom large, particularly given the confession by Misskelley and lack of physical evidence linking the defendants to the crime scene, the lawyers said.

"Certainly had the victims been forcibly sodomized by Echols and Baldwin, as claimed by Jessie Misskelley, it is inconceivable that those assaults could have been accomplished without leaving any genetic material," they wrote.

--Marc Perrusquia: 529-2545

© 2007 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 01:25:52 AM »

More interesting reading here:

http://www.wm3.org/
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 03:26:20 AM »

In case anyone is wondering why I brought this forward, I thought I would explain. Well, first off it was aired recently on CNN about the new DNA testing being done and a possible new trial. Secondly, if you saw the HBO special regarding this case (Paradise Lost) starring one of the step Dads, you probably thought (like I did) that the stepdad (John Mark Byers) had something to do with what happened to these 3 children. He was definitely odd and even went as far as to give a knife to the HBO staff with blood on it, which later tested to be human blood. Then lastly, NOW recent DNA testing on hairs found within the binding of one of the children implicates.....(this is getting confusing) ANOTHER Step Dad (Terry Hobbs) as well as "Terry Hobbs" friend "David Jacoby" Terry and David were supposedly together that afternoon/evening. Police also never completed an interview with "Terry Hobbs". He was not home when LE went to interview Mrs Hobbs. They never returned to interview him. Things are supposed to start happening in this case in mid February of this year. This should be interesting. This case has always disturbed me on so many levels. I just hope we can find answers soon with out a shadow of a doubt so that the memory of these children can be the focus and not who committed the crime.
 ::MonkeyAngel::May you rest in peace little Angels an angelic monkey
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2011, 06:55:17 AM »

In case anyone is wondering why I brought this forward, I thought I would explain. Well, first off it was aired recently on CNN about the new DNA testing being done and a possible new trial. Secondly, if you saw the HBO special regarding this case (Paradise Lost) starring one of the step Dads, you probably thought (like I did) that the stepdad (John Mark Byers) had something to do with what happened to these 3 children. He was definitely odd and even went as far as to give a knife to the HBO staff with blood on it, which later tested to be human blood. Then lastly, NOW recent DNA testing on hairs found within the binding of one of the children implicates.....(this is getting confusing) ANOTHER Step Dad (Terry Hobbs) as well as "Terry Hobbs" friend "David Jacoby" Terry and David were supposedly together that afternoon/evening. Police also never completed an interview with "Terry Hobbs". He was not home when LE went to interview Mrs Hobbs. They never returned to interview him. Things are supposed to start happening in this case in mid February of this year. This should be interesting. This case has always disturbed me on so many levels. I just hope we can find answers soon with out a shadow of a doubt so that the memory of these children can be the focus and not who committed the crime.
 ::MonkeyAngel::May you rest in peace little Angels an angelic monkey
Cartfly, this new evidence assuredly calls into question so many things.  Along with the juror mentioned in one of the articles, a new trial seems fair.  Thank you for the updates.
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2011, 10:47:41 PM »

March 28, 2011

WM3 Victimís Mother Prepares for New Hearing

http://wm3org.typepad.com/blog/2011/03/wm3-victims-mother-prepares-for-new-hearing.html
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2011, 05:55:12 PM »

NEW BLINK POST:

http://blinkoncrime.com/2011/08/15/the-west-memphis-three-series-part-i-set-free-or-where-they-should-be/

The West Memphis Three Series Part I: Set Free Or Where They Should Be?
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2011, 01:31:49 AM »

NEW BLINK POST:

http://blinkoncrime.com/2011/08/15/the-west-memphis-three-series-part-i-set-free-or-where-they-should-be/

The West Memphis Three Series Part I: Set Free Or Where They Should Be?

Wow, just wow.....Thanks Klaas for the heads up on Blinks article.

I was just thinking about this case yesterday. I think I will need to read Blinks article a couple of more times just to digest all of this. I am looking forward to reading the next installments. I am still on the fence about all of this. I remember the hysteria when this all happened and still get sick inside thinking about what these children went through. I hope all of our doubts of guilt or innocence can finally be put to rest sometime soon.
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2011, 01:41:19 PM »

There are three segments of this interview regarding a new review of evidence to be presented to a Judge in December 2011. Also a side note another HBO film is going to be released in November of 2011.

http://youtu.be/0FWAJb7Xu_Q
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2011, 06:21:28 PM »

I just picked up this news from a poster over at blinks on her article about the West Memphis 3. Here is a media release:

Deal could lead to release of West Memphis Three

    By Marc Perrusquia
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 4:37 p.m.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/aug/18/plea-deal-release-west-memphis-three/

 ::snipping2::
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are working out a deal that could result in the release of the West Memphis Three murder defendants as early as Friday, according to legal sources and relatives of victims.

"It's a high probability," said Jackie Byers, 44, wife of John Mark Byers, whose son was one of three 8-year-old boys found nude and hog-tied in 1993 in a watery ditch in West Memphis. "We've been asked not to say anything until after tomorrow."

A source close to the case said the pending deal involves the immediate release of defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley in return for pleas to lesser charges. All three were convicted of capital murder in 1994. Echols was sentenced to death, while Baldwin and Misskelley are serving life terms
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2011, 06:37:13 PM »

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« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2011, 06:50:09 PM »

Video of Stevie Branch's Father (Today)

<a href="http://&amp;nbsp;&lt;embed type=&#039;application/x-shockwave-flash&#039; salign=&#039;l&#039; flashvars=&#039;&amp;amp;titleAvailable=true&amp;amp;playerAvailable=true&amp;amp;searchAvailable=false&amp;amp;shareFlag=N&amp;amp;singleURL=http://wreg.vidcms.trb.com/alfresco/service/edge/content/b05313b1-d7e1-4c5b-8776-fe8bf072cdd6&amp;amp;propName=wreg.com&amp;amp;hostURL=http://www.wreg.com&amp;amp;swfPath=http://wreg.vid.trb.com/player/&amp;amp;omAccount=triblocaltvglobal&amp;amp;omnitureServer=wreg.com&#039; allowscriptaccess=&#039;always&#039; allowfullscreen=&#039;true&#039; menu=&#039;true&#039; name=&#039;PaperVideoTest&#039; bgcolor=&#039;#ffffff&#039; devicefont=&#039;false&#039; wmode=&#039;transparent&#039; scale=&#039;showall&#039; loop=&#039;true&#039; play=&#039;true&#039; pluginspage=&#039;http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer&#039; quality=&#039;high&#039; src=&#039;http://wreg.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf&#039; align=&#039;middle&#039; height=&#039;450&#039; width=&#039;300&#039;&gt;&lt;/embed&gt;" target="_blank">http://&amp;nbsp;&lt;embed type=&#039;application/x-shockwave-flash&#039; salign=&#039;l&#039; flashvars=&#039;&amp;amp;titleAvailable=true&amp;amp;playerAvailable=true&amp;amp;searchAvailable=false&amp;amp;shareFlag=N&amp;amp;singleURL=http://wreg.vidcms.trb.com/alfresco/service/edge/content/b05313b1-d7e1-4c5b-8776-fe8bf072cdd6&amp;amp;propName=wreg.com&amp;amp;hostURL=http://www.wreg.com&amp;amp;swfPath=http://wreg.vid.trb.com/player/&amp;amp;omAccount=triblocaltvglobal&amp;amp;omnitureServer=wreg.com&#039; allowscriptaccess=&#039;always&#039; allowfullscreen=&#039;true&#039; menu=&#039;true&#039; name=&#039;PaperVideoTest&#039; bgcolor=&#039;#ffffff&#039; devicefont=&#039;false&#039; wmode=&#039;transparent&#039; scale=&#039;showall&#039; loop=&#039;true&#039; play=&#039;true&#039; pluginspage=&#039;http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer&#039; quality=&#039;high&#039; src=&#039;http://wreg.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf&#039; align=&#039;middle&#039; height=&#039;450&#039; width=&#039;300&#039;&gt;&lt;/embed&gt;</a>

I messed that one up....direct link here:

http://www.wreg.com/videobeta/b05313b1-d7e1-4c5b-8776-fe8bf072cdd6/News/RAW-Steven-Branch-Father-of-Victim-Stevie-Branch
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« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2011, 06:56:15 PM »

  http://www.wreg.com/news/wreg-west-memphis-3-freed,0,5347577.story

 ::snipping2::
Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin
West Memphis 3: Two, Including Echols, Will Be Released Friday

Updated: 12 minutes ago George Brown

5:26 p.m. CDT, August 18, 2011


::snipping2::Multiple sources, including the father of one of the victims, have confirmed this will be announced at a special hearing Friday.

Steve Branch, father of WM3 victim Stevie Branch: "There's supposed to be a gag order on this but they're not going to gag me. They can put me in jail if they want to. I'll go to jail to stand up for my son's rights."

That hearing is scheduled to be held in Jonesboro, AR. ::snipping2::
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« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2011, 07:00:23 PM »

Victim's family: Members of West Memphis 3 to be released
Posted: Aug 18, 2011 10:45 AM CDT Updated: Aug 18, 2011 4:00 PM CDT


 ::snipping2::
JONESBORO, AR -

(WMC-TV) - The father of one of the boys brutally killed in West Memphis in 1993 told Action News 5 that two of the men convicted will be released during a hearing Friday.

Thursday afternoon, Action News 5 learned that all three men convicted in the infamous murder left a Super Max prison with all their belongings.  The men were placed in the custody of Craighead County officers ahead of Friday's hearing in a Jonesboro courtroom.

Craighead County Circuit Judge David Laser's office on Thursday said that Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin will be in court Friday in Jonesboro. Laser's office refused to release any more details about the hearing. A gag order issued by Laser in April prohibits attorneys from talking to reporters. ::snipping2::

http://www.wmctv.com/story/15290668/judge-sets-unexpected-hearing-for-west-memphis-3
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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2011, 07:16:45 PM »

    Video
    Photo

    Hearing Set for 'West Memphis Three'
    FULL INTERVIEW: Damien Echols

Big Decision Expected in West Memphis Three Case

Updated: Thursday, 18 Aug 2011, 5:15 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 18 Aug 2011, 5:06 PM CDT

http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/dpp/news/big-decision-expected-in-west-memphis-three-case-mfo-20110818
   ::snipping2::
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - An 18 year saga which began with the brutal slayings of three West Memphis 8-years olds could be headed toward a surprise ending. A special Friday morning hearing in Jonesboro will bring together families of the victims and the three convicted murderers, known as the West Memphis Three, for what could be an explosive resolution of the infamous case.
 ::snipping2::
September 2010 may have marked the beginning of a major turning point in the iconic 18-year old triple murder case of the West Memphis Three for the deaths of Christopher Byers, Stevie Branch and Michael Moore. Arkansas Supreme Court judges surprisingly ordered an evidentiary hearing to determine if new DNA evidence and testimony might warrant new trials for convicted murderers Damien Wayne Echols, Charles Jason Baldwin and Jessie Lloyd Misskelly.
 ::snipping2::
The turn of events gained momentum this summer. In June, even before the contents of testing became available, the Arkansas Attorney General's office declared they would not fight DNA results. In July, testing indicated DNA at the murder scene did not match Echols or the other two defendants. A human hair that was discovered on one of the victim's blue jeans was not linked the trio nor was a small amount of human DNA found on a victim's shoe, indicating instead the DNA evidence belonged to two unidentified men.

 ::snipping2::

So who is trying to cover their own a**?
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« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2011, 09:57:26 AM »



No justice for these little guys.  Such a shame.
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« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2011, 10:28:28 AM »

Live coverage link:

http://www.wmctv.com/category/196691/action-news-5-live-video-coverage

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