On 1998-MAY-5, Damien Echols was granted a hearing to determine whether he deserves a
new trial. It is alleged that he received ineffective counsel at his original trial.
"Echols' [current] attorney, Edward Mallett, contends that his...legal rights
were compromised by his lawyers who sold his story to a movie producer in order to cover
legal costs." It is also alleged that the state did not provide the defense
attorneys sufficient funds to hire expert witnesses.
A Forensic Analysis & Psychological Profile has been prepared by Brent E.
Turvey, a Forensic Scientist & Criminal Profiler from Knowledge Solutions, LLC.
It was entered into the record. An abridged version is available on-line. 1
Some of the conclusions reached by Turvey are quite different from those of the
the location of the bodies, "in a drainage ditch, in a heavily wooded area
called the Robin Hood hills," is only one of four crime scenes involved in the
there are obvious wounds on Steve Branch's face that appear to have been caused by
biting. The investigators apparently missed them.
the boys were not murdered at the location where they were found.
three additional crime scenes were involved:
where the boys were abducted,
where the murders happened, and
in the vehicle used to transport the bodies to the woods
"This crime does not present at all as a satanic ritual, or cult related,
At the hearing, the Judge granted a defense request that bite mark impressions be taken
from the West Memphis 3 so that they can be compared to Steve Branch's face wound. Bite
marks can be positively associated with the teeth of a perpetrator, much like
The hearing was scheduled to continue on 1998-SEP-2 in Jonesboro, AR. It was deferred
until OCT-26 because of witness transportation difficulties.
The first day of the hearings, Monday, OCT-26, appear to have
been given over to procedural matters. Forensic scientist /profiler Brent Turvey described
how he became aware of this case; the prosecution attempted to trash his educational
attainments. News sources appear to have shifted their presentation. During the original
trial, the media was heavily biased against the defendants; now, they seem to be
concentrating on reporting the facts as they develop.
The second day of the hearings, Tuesday OCT-27: Media
coverage of the hearing was pathetically incompetent; filled with misinformation.
Reporters had only a shallow understanding of the case. Thomas David, a Board certified
forensic odontologist, produced a large color photograph of victim Stevie Branch's face,
with the obvious bite marks on his forehead and eye. This triggered a disturbance by Steve
Branch Sr., the biological father of the victim. He was quickly restrained and escorted
out of the court room. The three dental impressions of the Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin
were produced. None of the impressions matched the wound on the victim's
face. Dr. David stated that in his professional opinion, none of the
three youths convicted of the crime had made the bite mark wound. Damien Echols later
commented about the new evidence: "It means that somebody bit them, and it
The third day of the hearings, Wednesday OCT-28: Dr. Joseph Cohen,
a medical examiner from New York city gave testimony. He has performed over 1,300
autopsies. This was the first time that he testified as a witness for the defense. He
stated that many of the statements made by the county coroner in his autopsy report were
"absurd," "speculative" and had "gone too
far." He said: "I think it's wrong... I think it's misleading to
suggest specific mechanisms of injury. I disagree with the wording in Dr. Peretti's
report. The words 'gouging' and 'cutting' are misleading, and describe an act as opposed
to a wound. I would have used different terminology. Most of these wounds are nondescript."
Detective Bryn Ridge was the first witness for the prosecution. He claimed to have
researched the occult and occult related crimes. When pressed for details, he indicated
that he had read a book on the subject and talked to a coroner in Little Rock who had
experience with occult crime. He was not certain whether photographs were taken of the
crime scene. He seems to have been an effective witness for the defense! Ron Lax was the
next prosecution witness. He is an investigator that was originally convinced of the guilt
of the three youths. However, after his investigation, he was convinced of their
The second hearing had been continued until early 1999-JAN. It was further delayed
until 1999-MAR-18. Two days of testimony in Marion AR revealed a comedy of errors and
oversights by the police and forensic investigators. The presence of fly larvae and
absence of mosquito bits appears to indicate that the three boys were killed elsewhere and
their bodies dumped into the river where they were found. Burk Sauls who witnessed the
hearing commented: "Many people who heard the testimony were confused by the
contradictions and the almost desperate attempts to defend sloppy work." It was
revealed that the body of one of the victims, Michael Moor, had a strip of cloth in its
hand. It could have been torn from the clothing of the perpetrator. Unfortunately, the
evidence was subsequently lost.
Judge Burnett denied the appeal on 1999-JUN-17. He concluded that
the defendants had not proven that the bite marks were human in origin.
All three defendants launched numerous additional appeals. None were
successful. A request for DNA testing was made by Echols during 2002-SEP. On
2004-JUN-02, the Circuit Court of Craighead County, AK, ordered DNA testing on
hairs, nail scrapings, etc. found at the crime scene. The defense attorneys'
theory was that the murder scene showed such violence that the DNA of the
murderer(s) would definitely have been left at the scene.
testing destroys the samples, making them unusable for future
evaluation. As of the end of 2005-MAR, the State and the Defense were still
discussing the problem. When the DNA testing was finally done, none of the DNA
of the accused was found to be present. This threw very serious doubt on the guilt of
Of even greater interest is the DNA that was found at the murder
scene. Alice Whitman Leeds of Public Relations in the
Public Interest wrote on the West Memphis Three web site:
"DNA testing has been conducted on dozens of pieces
of evidence. The DNA results show no link whatsoever to Damien Echols,
Jessie Misskelley or Jason Baldwin – and all of the experts agree that,
under the prosecution theory of how the crime was committed, their DNA would
be present at the crime scene if they were guilty. Instead, the DNA results
match Terry Hobbs, the step-father of one of the victims. Our new filing
also includes strong evidence from Pam Hobbs (the ex-wife of Terry Hobbs and
the mother of one of the victims) implicating her former husband in the
The phrase: "the DNA results match Terry Hobbs" is not 100% accurate. The DNA proves rather conclusively that the West Memphis Three are innocent. However, it is not a perfect match for Terry Hobbs. It is only a match for about 1.5% of the population which includes Terry Hobbs.
A WM3 Worldwide Awareness Day was held in at least 30 cities
A "Second Amended Petition for Writ of Habeus Corpus" was filed on behalf
of Damien Echols on 2007-OCT-29. His defense team argued that new
evidence, including the testimony of several prominent forensic pathologists,
would convince any reasonable juror of the innocence of the WM3. Assisting
his defense team are leading pathologists and odontologists -- Dr. Werner Spitz, Dr. Michael
Baden and Dr. Vincent Dimaio. John Douglas, a former FBI profiler also assisted.
He has stated that Satanic elements were not present at the murder scene, and
that the actual murder was prone to rage and probably lived closed to the crime
scene. The investigators also concluded that the cuts on the bodies of the
victims were caused by animals -- not by a knife as claimed by the prosecution.
"... the writ that we just filed in federal court
completely undercuts every argument and piece of 'evidence'” that was used
to convict Damien, Jessie and Jason. Our lawyers and other legal experts say
that any one piece of evidence in our filing, by itself, would be enough to
overturn these convictions – and that, combined, all of the evidence makes
it clear that this was a grave injustice that the federal court must step in
and correct." 2
The press conference can be viewed in six videos on YouTube.
3 This is the first of the six
videos. The audio is uneven so you will have to ride the volume control.