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Thread: West Memphis Three Get A New Hearing

  1. #16
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    'West Memphis 3' to be freed

    Jonesboro, Arkansas (CNN) -- Three men convicted in the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, were ordered released after entering new pleas following a court hearing.

    Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 18 years in prison with credit for time served, a prosecutor said. They were to be released on Friday.

    Critics of the prosecution argue no direct evidence tied the three to the murders and that a knife recovered from a lake near the home of one of the men could not have caused the boys' wounds. More recent DNA testing also demonstrated no links, according the mens' supporters.

    The case drew national attention, with actor Johnny Depp and singer Eddie Vedder and other celebrities, trying to rally support for the men's release.

    John Mark Byers, whose son Christopher Byers was one of the three victims, said he believes the three men are innocent. He said releasing them without exonerating them of the crime is an outrage.

    "They're innocent. They did not kill my son," Byers said before the hearing.

    But the father of another of the victims, Steven Branch, blasted the apparent agreement.

    "I don't know what kind of deal they worked up," Steve Branch told CNN affiliate WMC-TV. "Now you can get some movie stars and a little bit of money behind you and you can walk free for killing somebody."

    Echols was sentenced to death and Misskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences in the May 1993 slayings of Steven and fellow second-graders Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. The boys' bodies were mutilated and left in a ditch, hogtied with their own shoelaces.

    Prosecutors argued that the men convicted, teenagers at the time, were driven by satanic ritual and that Echols had been the ringleader.

    DNA later failed to link the men to the crime, and the state Supreme Court ruled in November that all three could present new evidence to the trial court in an effort to clear them. A decision is pending on whether the three should receive a new trial. Friday's action could negate the need for that, however.

    The DNA tests were conducted between December 2005 and September 2007, according to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

    The material included hair from a ligature used to bind Moore and a hair recovered from a tree stump near where the bodies were found, court documents said.

    The hair found in the ligature was consistent with Branch's stepfather, Terry Hobbs, while the hair found on the tree stump was consistent with the DNA of a friend of Hobbs', according to the documents.

    Police have never considered Hobbs a suspect, and he maintains that he had nothing to do with the murders.
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    Elite Member JadeStar70's Avatar
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    WOW!! I have followed this story for years, and read and watched anything I could get my hands on about it.

    I am glad they are free men, but it sucks that they had to plead guilty in order to get out with time served. I guess they can't sue the state of Arkansas or profit off of their stories, either. How the hell will these guys live??? They went in as teens and now come out as middle aged adults. They have no concepts of living in the real world on their own, they have no social skills, and they have no education or means of supporting themselves. So sad......

  3. #18
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    No way in hell does the state have enough evidence to convict them and for them to have to swear that it is the case, is a farce. At least they now have freedom but the state gets to pretend that the system did nothing wrong.

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    Funny that the only parent that has a problem with this is the one who is somewhat of a suspect. Interesting, as the other parents believe these men are innocent.

  5. #20
    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    It's about damn time, what a farce that case was and remains. One of the documentaries I watched on this said that the police went to the juvenile probation department (which apparently also acted as children's services) and asked them for a list of kids that could have committed this crime...these boys (now men) were on the list and the police were off and fabricating/bullying. The children's services/probation officer who supplied the list was interviewed and didn't seem to show an ounce of guilt for the role he played to say nothing of his ethical breach.
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    Elite Member Seth82's Avatar
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    I am glad they are free men finally
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisNine View Post
    Funny that the only parent that has a problem with this is the one who is somewhat of a suspect. Interesting, as the other parents believe these men are innocent.
    Actually, it's Branch's step-dad who is a match to the hair at the scene, not his father who is quoted. I'd like to find out more about that....like is it a DNA match because they had the root or did they just compare hair samples, which is way, way less accurate. And what was the ligature, was it something taken from the victims, or something that should not have had any connection to them?

    Anyway, while I'm shocked these guys have been set free, it is extremely unsatisfying in a way, isn't it? The state gets to claim they caught the right guys but weasel out that a new trial isn't feasible, while Baldwin, Echols, and Misskelley have to declare guilt to go free. A very, very, VERY strange case, one I always wished I could find the truth about. John Mark Byers and his conversion to believing the 3 are innocent is another weird saga unto itself.
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    I'm glad they're free. Sickening that the real killer(s) have got away with it so long.
    I was reading more about the case earlier. I always found that weird about John Mark Byers choosing to have all his teeth removed.

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    Outrageous. I never use this word, but it's outrageous. It's like blackmail to justify a travesty of justice and it's disgusting. I could cry because I'm so happy they're being released, but this is just too much. They have been raped by this state and I hope they set it on fire on their way out this place.
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    I've always believed they were involved but never objected to a new trial. Quite frankly by today's standards of evidence they probably cannot be re-convicted. However, they did serve 18 years and its kind of enough.
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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    Greys, I'm curious why you think they were involved.
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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    Because there was a lot of other evidence and the current DNA does not exonerate them, its just inconclusive. I do believe their trial wasn't fair. That does not, however, make them innocent, it just makes the prosecutor a jackass. I remember this case from the beginning and I see that a lot of what is being written about it now is a whole lot of revisionist history.

    ETA: there have been several threads about this case over the years, if you checked them, you will see my position has not changed.
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  13. #28
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    I semi-agree with you, Greys. A lot of people seem completely sure they're innocent, and they may in fact be, but it's more a case of there really not being enough to convict if a fair trial were held (not the Satanism and other questionable stuff introduced at trial). If I recall correctly, the only direct physical evidence was 1 or 2 fibers found on clothing in Damien's closet matching something at the scene, but fiber evidence is really quite weak and can be subject to misinterpretation. And there seemed to be quite a lot of credibility questions regarding the State's witnesses, and of course the issues surrounding Misskelley's confession. All in all, I tend to believe they truly are innocent, but nobody at this point can say for sure.

    I did find this about the DNA evidence, from last year's decision in Echols's case, and in my opinion, it's fairly strong in pointing away from them:
    The results of the testing established that neither Echols, Baldwin, nor Misskelley was
    the source of any of the biological material tested, which included a foreign allele from a
    penile swab of victim Steven Branch; a hair from the ligature used to bind victim Michael
    Moore; and a hair recovered from a tree stump, near where the bodies were recovered. In
    addition, the DNA material from the hair found in the ligature used to bind Moore was found
    to be consistent with Terry Hobbs, Branch’s stepfather. The hair found on the tree stump
    was consistent with the DNA of David Jacoby, a friend of Terry Hobbs.
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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greysfang View Post
    Because there was a lot of other evidence and the current DNA does not exonerate them, its just inconclusive. I do believe their trial wasn't fair. That does not, however, make them innocent, it just makes the prosecutor a jackass. I remember this case from the beginning and I see that a lot of what is being written about it now is a whole lot of revisionist history.

    ETA: there have been several threads about this case over the years, if you checked them, you will see my position has not changed.

    Sorry, I wasn't trying to pick a fight, just curious. I'll check out the other threads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarzy View Post
    I always found that weird about John Mark Byers choosing to have all his teeth removed.
    That always struck me as really weird as well especially that they were looking for a teeth match from the bodies... I have seen some documentaries on these boys and always thought they were innocent and convicted because they stood out. I am glad they are today but what a shitty deal that they cannot sue the state of Arkansas for the wrongful conviction and years spent behind bars.

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