by Cathy Frye
Ark. court denies defense requests in boys murder case
LITTLE ROCK (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied
requests from defense lawyers seeking to expand what a circuit
judge can consider this fall in reviewing cases against their
clients in the murders of three West Memphis boys.
Without comment, the Supreme Court denied the petitions from
convicted killers Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. But the
ruling allows the defense to renew the requests later.
Baldwin, Misskelley, and Damien Echols were teenagers when the
8-year-old boys were found dead in a ditch near their neighborhood
a day after they went missing May 5, 1993.
Circuit Judge David Burnett, the original trial judge, plans to
review claims by the defense in September of new evidence that they
say exonerates their clients. Burnett has ordered lawyers in the
case not to talk about it to the public.
In the rulings today, the Supreme Court denied two similar
petitions from lawyers for Baldwin and Misskelley, asking that the
court allow Burnett to consider evidence that they say was kept
from trial lawyers and the jury.
Among that information, they say, is evidence that the police
and possibly the prosecution considered that animals caused the
injuries found on the victims' bodies that the prosecution says was
caused by a knife; and that at least two witnesses told police the
likely murder weapon was thrown into a lake before the murders
not afterward as presented at trial.
Also, the defense says, there was information that would have
raised doubts about testimony from the prosecution's DNA expert,
Michael Deguglielmo, but trial lawyers did not have that
information. In addition, the DNA testing 15 years ago could not
have produced the details needed to support the state's case
against their clients, the defense lawyers said.
In responding to the petitions, Senior Assistant Attorney
General David R. Raupp characterized the requests as "a fishing
expedition" and said the defense had no proof but only "tentative
allegations" that evidence was withheld from the trial lawyers.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)