Not sure what to think about Terry Hobbs? Well this should make that easier.
Not sure what to think about Terry Hobbs? Well this should make that easier.
The last day of the hearings (or what we thought were the last day of
hearings) began with Ms. Sally Ware, Jason’s art teacher from Marion High
School. Jason was one of her student for Art 1 starting in 1991, and Art 2
starting in 1992. She said she always knew Jason to be well mannered, nice
and respectful to everyone. Philipsborn asked how she took attendance and
she said she took it daily, making sure to look each student in the face
when they said “here.” In fact Jason was in class about 90% of the time for
those two years. The week of May 2nd, she knew Jason was in school every
single day that week without a doubt because there was an art exhibit at the
school and he was excited about winning an award. She remembered that he was
well mannered, nice and respectful to everyone and that his behavior was
exactly the same after the murders as it was before-- she couldn’t believe
it when she found out from the TV news that he was one of the suspects. If
she had been contacted by Paul Ford, Ms Ware said she definitely would have
appeared as a character and alibi witness for Jason. (The very notion of
Jason showing up for class the day after the murders with no marks on him,
acting like it was any other day, made me want to get up and scream!)
Next up was Joseph Samuel Dwyer, who was very close friends with Jason at
his last residence before the ADC, Lakeshore Trailer Park. He said they
never went to Robin Hood Hills, even if they HAD heard of it before, it was
too far away on foot… Their usual haunt was the videogame machines at
WalMart. Dwyer recalled that he and Jason’s brother Matt would sneak out of
the house at night sometimes but Jason never did anything like that. Between
the murders and Jason’s arrest, he hung out and rode the school bus with him
every day and Jason didn’t act any differently. He never knew Jason to be
violent and he definitely wasn’t into Satanism or witchcraft. Yes, Sam would
have testified as a character witness at Jason’s trial if he had been asked
Paul Jason Duncan was next up. He was locked up at the Craighead Detention
Facility with Jason from July 1993 to January of 1994 and got to know Jason
pretty well as they spent most of their time together in the day room. It
was a small place and they were constantly monitored. Duncan remembers Jason
as being quiet, polite and never caused problems. Jason would say things
like his lawyer or his mother visited him but he never spoke about the case
or murders to Duncan the entire time. Though Michael Carson was only there
two weeks, Duncan remembered his stint there and added that he and Jason
purposely avoided him as he was a troublemaker. What was his reaction when
he found out Michael Carson testified against Jason at his trial? Duncan
said he knew it was a lie, Jason would never have confided in someone like
Following Duncan was Jennifer Bearden, who used to hang out with Damien and
Jason at the skating rink on weekends and spoke with them on the phone
nearly every night. She knew Jessie from the skating rink as well but said
Damien and Jason didn’t hang out with him. Damien and/or Jason never
mentioned they were interested in Satanism or witchcraft to her. Jennifer
remembered the night of May 5th because Damien said to call him at Jason’s
house later on as they had to go to Jason’s uncle’s house for a while. She
called Damien’s home later on but the line was busy until about 9:30pm and
they spoke until after 10pm. Jason wasn’t there. She spoke to Jason or
Damien nearly every day until their arrests and there was no change in their
behavior from before the murders to after their arrests. No one ever
contacted her to testify about Damien or Jason about an alibi for that
night. Jennifer was on Jessie’s witness list but she was never called. She
was supposed to testify at Damien’s Rule 37 hearings in 1998 but didn’t.
Jack Lassiter, an Arkansas attorney, testified next as to whether Strickland
v Washington, a 1984 Supreme Court decision, applied to this case.
(Strickland: the plaintiff must show that counsel’s performance was
deficient and made errors so serious that counsel did not function as the
defendant’s "counsel" as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. The defendant
must also show that this deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This
requires showing that counsel’s errors were so serious as to deprive the
defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable.) He reviewed
Paul Ford’s files including witness statements, crime lab reports, newspaper
articles, suspect interviews but he couldn’t recall seeing any crime scene
or autopsy photos. He also does not recall seeing Inquistor Inc reports by
Ron Lax with leads that could have helped both legal teams. There were no
independent consultation with a serologist, DNA expert or pathologist, only
Frank Peretti. Ford had a notation that one of the cheeks may have exhibited
a turtle bite. There was another notation saying “head hair on ligature on
Byers”. (Did Peretti mean Moore or was there another hair that was lost?)
Lassiter didn’t see any evidence of follow up investigation or consultation
with experts about what would become two very crucial pieces of evidence
leading AWAY from Jason Baldwin. He reckoned that Ford did not comply with
Strickland standards and owed a much more thorough investigative duties to
The prosecution has asked for two more hearing dates on October 1 and 2,
Michael Burt strenuously objected as both sides had agreed that the 10 days
were supposed to conclude Jason and Jessie’s Rule 37 hearings, period. The
state will call an unnamed expert to dispute Spitz’s testimony as well as
Dr. Sturner, retired pathologist and formerly Dr. Peretti’s superior.
Looking to the future, the Arkansas State Supreme court reconvenes after
Labor Day and will consider the affidavits of Kent Arnold (Echols/Baldwin
jury foreman) and the attorney he hired DURING the trial to discuss the
Misskelley statement. This should stop the case in its tracks, at the very
least cause some major fireworks. The A.S.S.C. will consider a separate
request to finally have Judge Burnett removed from this case. AND—after Dan
Stidham’s testimony -- Burt and Philipsborn both realized the prosecution
committed a Brady violation (Brady v Maryland ) when it didn’t forward
Kermit Channel’s serology reports to Stidham or Paul Ford, Misskelley and
Baldwin’s original trial lawyers before, during or after the trials.. That
isn’t going to go away quietly either!
The following summary was edited from Jason Baldwin’s DNA brief (527 pages!)
filed in May 2009. I think this about says it all:
Leading pathologists and odontologists have independently concluded that
animal predation, rather than serrated knives or any other kind of knife,
caused the wounds that were previously identified as “knife injuries”, such
as the gouging and linear wounds on Steve Branch, the “stab” wounds to
Michael Moore as well as the severe genital injuries to victim Christopher
Byers. The state’s evidence at the original trials convinced the Court
that: “Many of the cuts were made with a serrated knife blade.” But nothing
previously alleged was as devastating as the prosecutorial misconduct of
John Fogleman in his closing arguments in which he used a knife not even
entered into evidence to demonstrate upon a grapefruit that it could make
cuts *exactly* like those found on Christopher Byers. Now that we know there
were no knives used on the victims, Fogleman’s assertions are nothing but
Frank Peretti, the state’s pathologist, testified at both Jessie’s trial and
Damien and Jason’s trial that there was evidence of sexual assault. New DNA
test results undermine his testimony at both trials, stating that there was
evidence of sexual assault. In 1993 the State introduced primitive DNA
evidence suggesting that semen was found on a cutting from the pair of
victim’s pants, but the Bode DNA test results established that the cuttings
yielded no identification of the defendants in this case. New DNA evidence
demonstrates that the State’s DNA “expert” was incorrect in his assertions
about the presence of semen: There was none. None of the more than 30 items
of evidence tested is consistent with or implicates any of the three
defendants, though some items did yield identifiable results pertaining to
Original crime scene reports and photographs, In addition to the new DNA
evidence, was considered by highly experienced, board-certified forensic
pathologists and forensic odontologists who have opined that not only did
the State’s pathologist misinterpret the alleged evidence of sexual assault,
he mistook animal predation for knife wounds. The defense offered opinions
from Dr. Janice Ophoven, an experienced forensic pediatric pathologist, from
Dr. Werner Spitz, whose several editions of the work “Medico-Legal
Investigation of Death” is considered the gold standard for reference by
forensic pathologists and from Dr. Michael Baden, currently Chief Forensic
Pathologist for the New York State Police. Their opinions are supported by
the Chief Odontologist at the Miami Dade Medical Examiner’ Department, Dr.
Richard Souviron. These experts testified that the majority of the injuries
to the victims identified as knife gouges or cuts are in reality the result
of animal predation. The DNA test results corroborate these opinions, and
Free the WM3 Support Fund
In Arkansas, there is no statute of limitations on perjury. It is also a
class C Felony to contradict one's previous testimony, that's why no one
ever comes forward and admits they lied or "misremembered" on the witness
stand. Vicki came to court on Friday and was willing to take the stand to
set the record straight about why she lied at Jessie's trial but the state
would not make an exception. Faced with a felony charge, she decided not to
testify. Of course we supporters would say she should have done it anyway
but it's a dilemma not many of us will ever face oursevles.
Judge Burnett did allow Jessie's attorney, Michael Burt, to enter into
evidence a sworn statement given by Vicky in 2004 under oath and on video
tape to Nancy Pemberton, Jessie's private investigator. The state STILL may
charge Vicki with a felony even though she didn't appear-- they would rather
let her lies stand than finally hear the truth. And if that surprises anyone
after all these years, I guess I don't know what to say...
I am in possession of Vicki's statement and will break-out the salient parts
as soon as I can, along with the rest of Friday's witnesses. Supposedly
there will two more days of Rule 37 hearings on October 1st and 2nd as the
prosecution intends to call an "expert" witness that's going to dispute Dr
Spitz testimony (there's something I'd like to see!) as the retired Dr.
-- Lisa Fancher
Free the West Memphis 3 Support Fund
Bench conference completed to determine if statute of limitations on possible perjury charge has run out if Vicki contradicts her prior testimony from Jessie's trial in January of 1994. State says it is not willing to grant immunity so witness has declined to take the stand. Michael Burt is requesting that a video taped statement (Exhibit C) given to Jessie's P.I. be admitted into evidence.
In September, 2005 Jason Baldwin’s attorney contacted renowned pediatric pathologist, Doctor Janice Ophoven regarding this case and subsequently supplied her with trace evidence reports, trial testimony, autopsy reports and extensive photographs of the crime scene and the condition of the victims’ bodies at the time they were recovered from the crime scene on May 6, 1993 and from their autopsies the following day.
Doctor Janice Ophoven is one of the leading pediatric forensic pathologists in the nation, an expertise particularly relevant to the WM3 case. She is a board certified pathologist and forensic pathologist, on the American Board of Pathology, authors chapters for textbooks on pediatric forensic pathology and has performed hundreds upon hundreds of autopsies – correctly! – since 1980. Comparing her knowledge with Doctor Peretti’s limited skills and expertise is not a fair fight, and I love it.
In contrast to Dr Frank Peretti’s conclusions and testimony, this is were Dr Ophoven’s preliminary conclusions from 2006 after just a cursory review of the information she received from Philipsborn:
The injuries to the faces of the boys, particularly the punctate injuries, suggest that the remains had been chewed on by a dog or a rodent. While the photographs were not of good quality, they were sufficient to indicate it was possible that the genitalia of Byers were removed by an animal chewing on the remains, noting that the irregularity in the “cut” was consistent with tissue being pulled after having been gnawed on. There was some chewing, biting, and likely clawing in the area of the inner thigh. As to the remains of Chris Byers, some of the injuries to the face appeared to be of the type that might be caused by a small dog, or a rodent, and the pulling of some of the flesh, and punctate wounds, were completely consistent with animal bite marks.
The ear that was described during trial as likely having been injured during some form of sexual attack was more likely chewed on and pulled on by an animal than by a human being. There were no artifacts or findings consistent with the allegation that any kind of a sexual attack had taken place here. Each of the areas of “pathologic diagnoses” of anal dilation was meaningless. The findings are insufficient to specifically suggest that the victims were in any way sexually penetrated, or abused, prior to their deaths.
Ophoven’s preliminary conclusions concerning the nature and cause of the victims’ injuries theorized that animal predation caused the vast majority of the injuries to the victims’ skin, including the severe injury to the genitalia of Christopher Byers, marking a dramatic departure from the state’s trial contentions that such injuries were consistent with the use of a knife and were the product of a satanic or cult activity.
When called to testify at today’s hearing, Philipsborn asked her if there were specific professional standards for an autopsy possibly involving sexual abuse on an 8-year-old back in ‘93, Dr Ophoven said definitely yes, in pediatric pathology there are inherent ethical standards and doctors are exposed to meticulous training for these special circumstances autopsies. Every pediatric case is so unique that the pathologist should not hesitate to consult and seek advice from others with more experience if necessary.
Does Peretti’s testimony support his findings of forced fellatio? Really, Dr. O— no, again? She said the forensic pathologist testifies based on one’s findings, training and experience. Peretti’s testimony wasn’t based on the facts and evidence contained in his own report! For all three boys, anal dilatation (that’s fancy talk for dilation) was totally normal and the lining is always red, especially after death. There was not one shred of evidence that there was attempted penetration and to suggest so is improper. Their clothes were not torn, or torn off. There were no bruises from gripping or restraining the children before or during an attack.
There was no abnormality to the penile skin for Branch and Moore. Peretti speculated that the abrasions were caused by teeth scratches from oral sex or possibly being tightly bound. Ophoven said there are no ligature or bite marks so his findings aren’t scientifically valid in the least. Injuries to their ears were caused by animals. There are no bruises to the palate or throat. All the injuries were caused postmortem and they are not what he’s describing AT ALL. She said she was shocked because Perett’s reports describe non-specific injuries that doesn’t suggest or support a conclusion of sexual abuse. His testimony to both juries was highly speculative and nothing in his reports would ever make her conclude such a thing—it’s a violation of responsibility.
It is expected of a forensic pathologist when you state something with certainty that you are able to scientifically verify it, and have scientific proof to back up your statements. There are three components to sexual abuse: tissue damage, ejaculate and transmitted sexual disease. If none of them are there, the pathologist has nothing to contribute. She said, “My job is good science.”
Asked why she knew Byers’ penile skin was removed by animals and not a knife, she said it’s simply not a sharp force injury. The damage was caused by pulling, twisting and tearing at the skin. Puncture wounds from claws are obvious and there is no blood. (As you’ll recall no blood means no beating heart equals postmortem.) The remaining skin has a scalloped edge and is pushed back in little piles, with the tissue eaten down to the bone. It’s removal and surrounding damage is clearly a case of postmortem animal predation.
Wait—if you’re starting to nod out like Judge B, you’ll love this! Dr Ophoven, is it a preferred practice for a pathologist to be present at the crime scene? Dr O:
The forensic pathologist HAS to go to the crime scene. And there’s nothing preventing him or her from going even after the fact, in situ. On Page 1095 of the Echols/ Baldwin transcripts, Peretti states: No one has EVER called me to go to a crime scene.
Dr Joyce— would a competent pathologist have considered animal predation in this case, or as Dr Spitz likes to call it anthropophagy and/or as Dr Baden likes to call it necrophagia? Of course! Are ANY of these injuries consistent with a knife or knife injuries? Simply put: No. But one could mistake a knife cut for an animal bite, surely? Dr Ophovan said it’s a common mistake often based on preconceived notions and inexperience. One has to consider all the different explanations and consult outside specialists and any number of forensic books if necessary. She said when you don’t know the answer, the honorable answer as a medical doctor is to say “I don’t know.” It is improper to promote a theory not backed up by science.
Like Satanic ritual murder and the like? I see.
I found it especially interesting that she thought one of the most puzzling aspects of this case is that there were no signs of a struggle while the children were in their ligatures. Typically restraints are to capture and restrain. If the victims were alive, there would be changes to the underlying tissue to the wrists and ankles. Dr Ophoven wondered why someone would restrain a victim after death—was it intentional misdirection designed for law enforcement?
Ken Holt did his usual thing asking her how much she was being paid. Dr. Ophoven said she was going to submit an invoice at her normal rate and she replied that for a case of this kind, if she gets paid— great. If she doesn’t get paid— great. It’s too important.
And while we were all choked up at her awesomeness, Judge Burnett snapped to and traded wall-eyed bass fishing stories (she recognized one of the evidence knives as a fish de-scaling knife) with her as she left the stand. If you think I’m clever enough to make up stuff like this, guess again.
Dr Ophoven’s career was in full swing in 1993, imagine if Peretti had the temerity to actually consult with someone that had vast knowledge in the way of pediatric forensic pathology. Or any old board-certified forensic pathologist for that matter— we may not have had the pleasure of attending these hearings in Jonesboro 16 years after Jessie, Jason and Damien were convicted in large part by his false, speculative testimony and overwhelming job incompetence.
After a short break, Jason’s mother (Angela) Gail Grinnell took the stand and was questioned by Blake Hendrix. She described their lives before this nightmare happened to them all, she worked until 11pm and Jason took excellent care of his younger brothers Larry and Terry. Getting up at 6am to get them dressed, fed and on the school bus every morning. Heating up their meals at suppertime. Gail checked in with them by phone several times nightly from her workplace and looked in on them sleeping in their rooms as soon as she got home.
The night of the murders, she knew Jason went out for a bit to mow his Uncle Bartoush’s lawn and play some video games with Ken Walker at Wal-Mart. She couldn’t remember whether she spoke to Larry or Jason when she called from work, but she did find all her sons asleep in bed when she got home. She remembered hearing about the murders on May 6 and was very frightened for the boys and asked Jason to pay extra close attention to them as they went to and from school.
The night of June 3rd, she arrived home to find the police at her trailer. They wouldn’t tell her what was going on but told her to “ask her husband what’s up”! It never occurred to her that Jason was under arrest, she thought maybe something had happened to one of the boys and was worried sick. She was told by the WM chief of police that if she brought his school records proving he was in school on May 5th and May 6th that he could go home. She went to Marion High School and got his records and when she tried to deliver them, Jason had already been arraigned. This was very beginning of the lies and runaround she would get from anyone in authority.
Did the police truly believe that Jason killed three little boys on May 5th and went to school like nothing happened the next day? Attendance records show he was there on the 5th and the 6th, as ever. We know where he was in the middle of the evening on the 5th so after 11pm, he would have had to sneak out and sneak back in past his mother, who slept on the couch. That’s one cold-hearted son of a gun… that came home with not one bruise, cut, scratch or any blood or mud on his clothing.
Paul Ford never let Gail in the courtroom to support her boy because he didn’t’ want a mistrial. (Though the other parents called as witnesses attended every day.) She finally lost her job because she never knew what facility was holding Jason so she spent great portions of her day trying to visit him somewhere. She gave Ford Jason’s alibi and alibi witnesses but he didn’t find them important enough to use. Listening to Gail relive those events was torturous and Jason sat with his head bowed, remembering what life was life then. He was always a model son, they can’t take that away from him.
I went back and looked at Gail’s interview from June 4, 1993. That diabolical villain Det. Ridge tries to persuade her to let him do to Jason what he did to Jessie, fortunately she shut him down in under 15 minutes.
Det. Ridge: Well it's like this. We've got a story that is very, very believable. It is so close to perfect that we have to believe it. So until we can break that story apart and we can't even start to breaking it apart until Jason tells us something.Angela Grinnell: There's so many different stories in that, in that story he [Jessie] gave up I doubt anyone can believe it.
Det. Ridge: That's what I'm telling you. And it's believable.
Angela Grinnell: It's not believable to me because he's got too many different discrepancies in it.
Free the West Memphis 3 Support Fund
We're doing some major work on our official site right now so in the meantime you'll be redirected here when using the wm3.org URL. This way we can keep you up to date on the incredible information coming out at Jason and Jessie's hearing. Bear with us. Thank you!
Before I get to Souviron, I should back track to Phillip Wells on day one. Wells is the attorney that was hired behind Dan Stidham’s back to try to talk Jessie into testifying against Jason and Jessie after he was convicted of the murders. He was appointed by the court to be a liaison as they didn’t have shit against Jason and Damien and were terrified there would be an acquittal. You say Liaison, I say Rat. Mr. Wells downplayed his role as assisting Jessie in making an independent decision but acknowledged that Dan was very upset about his interference. And admitted Jessie was very suggestible. No! Do tell! He met with Jessie a couple times but was unwelcome after Jessie spoke with his father and refused to testify against Jason and Damien. And if I haven’t said it enough thus far, Jessie could have cut himself a sweet deal if he had been convinced to take the stand at their trial. What the WMPD did to him was criminal but he didn’t want to hinder their chance of possibly gaining an acquittal. We all know how that went… Still. He’s in the exact same boat that they are until the end, I can’t think of anything more courageous and noble than sacrificing your own freedom so that you don’t make a bad situation worse. As Crucial and I were walking to lunch we saw McDaniels and Wells doormat in front of their office, just feet from Kent Arnold’s storefront. Just makes your chest swell with pride being around these folks, I’m tellin’ ya!
At the very end of day two, Mark Byers was called as a witness as Burnett and Ken Holt (Brent Davis replacement) appeared skeptical that there was WILDLIFE in deep woods that would feast on fresh corpses. Animals? Woods? Outrageous. (In LA, we hunt them critters on the freeway!) So Byers took the stand briefly and attested that indeed there were many feral carnivorous animals in the Robin Hood Hills. Though the water was shallow, there’s every kind of bottom feeder- type cootie and many kinds of turtles. Google an image of an alligator snapping turtle and never swim these parts again—especially without your swim trunks on, boys.
So Dr. Spitz and Dr. Baden are somewhere beyond legendary in their field and it was an honor to hear their expertise on the stand. They are stately men, their testimony virtually unimpeachable. There were a couple laughs here and there but gravitas was their “thing”. And then there’s Dr. Richard Souviron. I like this guy he’s a pistol. He’s amped on 10 at all times, excited and eager to tell you exactly what he thinks in no uncertain terms. Before you get too excited that they came out and said Jason, Jessie and Damien are innocent—they didn’t. That’s not what they do; they said the wounds on the bodies (except for the blows to the head and the punch in the mouth on Stevie Branch) were caused by animals, not knives. They are there to very plainly state that Peretti’s autopsy was not competent especially for a triple case of homicide, his opinions and testimony were incorrect, and the case the state presented was utterly false as no knives were used to create the injuries on the bodies. They are not the cause of death. They drowned, and then they were eaten by animals above and below the surface of the water.
Back to Dr. Souviron, he began his career as a forensic odontologist in 1967 and testified for the first time in 1973. He is board certified and retest and recertified every five years. Up to 75% of his expert witness testimony is for law enforcement, so don’t go calling him some hired gun for the guilty. The low key Michael Burt threw him a couple softballs regarding his C.V. (that’s fancy talk for resume) and Souviron just took over. I don’t know if his charm comes from being Southern or if it’s just he’s so enthusiastic. About everything. Here’s the other thing that separates him from Spitz and Baden, they are expert in many aspects of the body but Souviron is a forensic odontologist. He is a teeth guy - he knows his teeth. He also knows a knife wound from a bite, they are often confused by law enforcement. After Judge B and Holt decided he was qualified to speak, we were entreated to the most educational and yet gruesome slide show that I’ve ever seen. Souviron brought some previous case photos to prove how similar some dog bite wounds were to the wounds on Chris, Stevie and Michael. I am very sorry again that Mark Byers has to keep seeing and hearing these opinions while the photos of his boy are displayed, I can’t imagine what that must be like.
In November of 2006, Lorri Davis sent Dr. Souviron approximately 1500 photos and case files and testimony. He wrote his first report in January 2007. This is a case of animal mutilation! He’d bellow as if he were addressing a conference of the deaf.
He detailed how improperly Peretti analyzed, catalogued and preserved the wounds. No surprise there EXCEPT that on Page 2 of Chris Byers’ autopsy, he noted the following:
…The frenulum was contused and was surrounded by a 1/2 inch contusion. Multiple superficial bite marks were present on the mucosal surfaces of the right and left cheeks.
Bite marks! Never explained. Never detailed. Never measured. Never preserved. Again, we’re gonna talk about Frank Peretti and Sturner a little later.
Souviron’s slides showed the devastation caused to bodies by tiny dogs and pit bulls while victims were dead or alive. The edges appear to be cut but when examined closely one can see the edges are jagged. And if there’s any doubt, one swabs it for saliva to rule out that it’s an animal (or human) bite. He even had slides of ant damage to a body that looked almost exactly like a bite of only the top or bottom palate. He also made an overlay of the serrated knife alleged to have made the parallel scratches and ruled out any possibility that any serrated knife would have caused those. Scratches! Claws!, said Souviron. Not even CLOSE to a knife wound!
Michael Burt calmly went through every pertinent photo of Chris, Stevie and Michael and Souviron would shout out the cause like he was on password. Bite! Licking skin off! Degloving of the penis! Hell, even when I started I would know that wasn’t a knife wound! He said he’d seen murders with 50-60 stabs wounds and a knife did none of these, especially since the pelvis and organs beneath had no penetration wounds.
Judge Burnett was so impressed by his forcefulness that he invited Souviron to be a guest speaker at his forensic science class. Judge B, forensic… Ahh, I’m just not gonna go there today. I gotta be in court in an hour.
Souviron said it’s common for multi-animals to dine on a freshly dead body, it’s a free meal and everyone wants some. They are attracted to the scent of urea as much as the blood. There will be many, many kinds of bite marks on a corpse from large animals to insects, and they will begin almost instantaneously even if the victim is still clinging to life. (Ante mortem.)
Souviron could not understand why Peretti mentioned bite marks in Byers’ autopsy but didn’t follow up on it. Nevertheless he was a part of the gang of leading forensic experts that traveled to Little Rock to meet with Peretti and Davis. This is gonna be really great!, Souviron thought-- I gave him my perspective and he said he would go back over 10 years of drownings and look into postmortem animal predation. As Baden mentioned, he never did it but he did write a passive-aggressive letter to Brent Davis that was forwarded to the experts and the WM3’s attorneys.
And what about Thomas David, who testified at Damien’s Rule 37 hearing that it was a human bite mark on Stevie Branch’s forehead? HE’S JUST FLAT WRONG!, Souviron said. I like him, I have dinner with him and everything but he’s just WRONG. I’ll tell him that to his face! Oh god, now he’s wound up… Ken Holt got up to cross-examine him about a few things. Did Souviron read Jessie’s statement that there was a knife present at the crime scene? Souviron: Absolutely! That grapefruit knife is absolute bunk!!!
It’s hard not to laugh in the courthouse especially when the topic is dead children but Dr. S is so vehement in his statements. Holt also asked if the bite marks didn’t cause their deaths, are they important? OF COURSE THEY ARE, he said, THEY SAID THESE WOUNDS WERE PART OF SATANIC CULT KILLING. AND IT’S ANIMAL MUTILATION.
Michael Burt got back up to ask that if it was alleged that Branch’s face was cut with a knife, didn’t that leave a misimpression in front of the jury? Souviron laughed: Well now, there are a whole lot of problems with this case… Amen to that, Dr Souviron, there’s just not enough time in the world to go over all of them, but truer words were never spoken.
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For the tabloid version(s), visit myspace.com/babalon_working
Can we all agree that the state’s case against the West Memphis 3 has now
been completely undermined? It’s gone light years past the three having
ineffective counsel. It’s now impossible to name one factual thing the state
presented as evidence that they committed these murders. Following the
legendary Dr. Werner Spitz the monumental Dr. Michael Baden, Chief Forensic
Pathologist for NY State Police, performer of over 20,000 autopsies is
almost cruel and unusual. But we’ve got even more fresh horses in the wings.
Anyone on the bench need a Maalox milkshake?
While Michael Burt was going over Baden’s C.V., he calmly dropped the bomb
that he re-opened and re-reviewed JFK and MLK’s autopsies. And has been
qualified to testify in over 1000 court cases. Though he also has a private
practice as a physician, in his capacity as a pathologist, he sees at least
100 drownings annually. In case you were wondering, he knows the
characteristics of a drowning victim.
He first learned about the WM3 case when he was shown photos from the crime
scene at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences
meeting in early 1998. Even with just a cursory examination, he told Dan
Stidham that the injuries could be animal predation. Do you remember your
big word from yesterday? That’s right, anthropophagy. Now unlearn it because
Dr. Baden prefers the term necrophagia over predation. Yes Necrophagia is a
seminal death metal band from 1983 but Baden’s not that hip—necrophagia
means the eating of dead flesh, the feeding on of carrion. “Predation”
implies that the feaster actually killed the prey.
Dr. Baden only got serious about the case in 2006 after a conference call
with Dr. Spitz, he knew instantly that he had the same opinions as before
—the wounds on the boys were postmortem necrophagia, nothing more and
nothing less. Echols’ attorney Dennis Riordan retained Dr. Baden and
provided him with the autopsy reports, hundreds of photos and the testimony
from both trials. He became alarmed that a terrible mistake had been made
attaching guilt to the three when the alleged penis cutting and satanic cult
activity were actually not the acts of human beings. Later in the day, Baden
mentioned the other thing that made him stick with the case because it
likely resulted in wrongful convictions was Fogleman’s grapefruit
demonstration with the serrated knife. He said nothing on the three bodies
have wounds that are consistent with ones that would be caused by this knife
and no forensic scientist would make this statement.
The only thing caused by a human or humans were the skull fractures, the
kids had lots of brain contusions which means they were alive when they were
struck. He believes their deaths were caused by multiple injuries: the
subduing blows followed by drowning after they were thrown hog-tied into
On May 17, 2007 Baden attended a conference in Little Rock with heavy
hitters like former San Antonio, Texas Medical Examiner Vincent Di Maio and
Dr. Richard Souviron, the Chief Odontologist at the Miami Dade Medical
Examiner’s Department in order to explain to Frank Peretti and the
prosecution that their opinions and conclusions of surgical penis cutting
and satanic cult activity was just plain wrong. But in fact 10 to 12 leading
forensic experts disagreed with his findings of sexual assaults and knife
wielding murderers. Peretti didn’t say much but promised to go back over 10
years of his drowning cases and get back to him with the results. He never
did. Out of 12 slides of tissue taken from their wrists and ankles, only one
had hemorrhaging, possibly indicating they were unconscious when they were
thrown in the water or didn’t struggle against their bindings as they were
deceased. No hemorrhages means no beating hearts and therefore no blood
Judge Burnett asked Dr. Baden what forms of life he’d been presented from
that creek and Baden immediately said snapping turtles but any other feral
carnivore was possible. He could tell it was large because of the damage.
Michael Burt produces exhibits in which Ryan Clark and Heather Hollis both
say they’ve been swimming in the RHH ditch and there are definitely
alligator snapping turtles present therein. (Yes, there IS such a thing and
no-- I won’t be swimming in no creeks around here!!!) A forensic
veterinarian was not consulted but it’s still an option, he said.
Baden added that in the 17 hours the boys were missing, there would
definitely be animal activity on a corpse on land and in water. Mostly
likely it was snapping turtles, dogs and fish and arthopods from underneath
the water. Whatever it was that caused this extensive damage to them, it was
not human beings and it wasn’t a knife or knives.
What about Peretti’s testimony regarding the sexual attacks upon the boys?
Baden sputters— it’s 100% speculation! In my 45 years of experience, I have
never seen ear or mouth injuries in forced fellatio in children. I have
never seen any supporting literature or textbooks with anyone writing about
it. One can’t allege forced fellatio from this injury (referring to a photo
with a right ear edema), the concept is just wrong!
He went on to scoff at the “defensive wounds” on exhibit 72a and 73a when
they’re merely superficial postmortem scratches to the back of the hands, no
extensive injuries to the palms or forearms. Dr. Baden has a lot of respect
for Dr. Sturner (Peretti’s superior) and asked to go over these photos with
him as he couldn’t believe he agreed with Peretti’s findings. Alas this
conference never took place as Sturner said he did agree with Peretti’s
opinions and conclusions. (But we’ll be discussing Sturner and Peretti at
length when I get some more time…)
Besides the children being gripped by the ears, Baden dismissed Peretti’s
conclusions regarding the cause of penis discoloration, “punches”, genital
mutilation… None of the above is true, he said, it’s ALL animal activity!
Especially the alleged penis removal, it’s a very vascular area and there
would be extreme blood loss, instead of almost no blood loss at all. Once
again, postmortem. Of course Peretti didn’t really distinguish which
injuries he considered premortem, antemortem or postmortem to begin with.
According to Baden, none of the children were stabbed or sexually attacked.
They were struck on the head before being dumped in the water to die. Their
injuries were caused by animal life above and below the surface of the
water. The fictional circumstances of the murders of Stevie Branch, Michael
Moore and Christopher Byers finally become non-fiction at the hands of a
real, board-certified pathologist. And a legend, either way.
*forgive the typos, I'll catch them later!
Too lazy to look up? Okay, it means the eating of human flesh. By zombies,
live humans, oneself (you, cannibal, you) and— as it relates to the West
Memphis Three case—animals and marine life. Before we get to play trivial
pursuit, Jessie Misskelley’s local attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, started out
the proceedings by asking Judge Burnett to recuse himself, arguing that
Burnett’s running for a partisan political office violates his client Jessie
Misskelley’s due process. (John Philipsborn, Jason’s attorney from San
Francisco, seconded that emotion.) Burnett protested that he’d love to drop
this whole thing in someone’s lap but it’s his duty to finish this and
besides, he hasn’t filed to run for anything yet. Ballsy move, Jeff (has
been ever since Paul Ford tried the first time) but doomed to fail. This
case is “Groundhog Day,” if only it were a movie.
Kicking off the final round of Rule 37 hearings is Dr Werner Spitz, a legend
in the field of forensic pathology who can literally say he wrote the book
on it—Medicolegal Investigation of Death, still the largest textbook in
print. Spitz has been a forensic pathologist for 56 years and performed
60,000 autopsies. With the budget a defendant receives to mount his or her
defense in the state of Arkansas, you simply would never see an expert of
this caliber testifying. (Or Dr Baden or Dr Ophoven or Dr Souviron, who will
all be joining us this week.) Dr. Spitz is forthright, his testimony
unequivocal and if you try to put words in his mouth or get to him freestyle
about what might have happened on May 5th, you might lose your hand at the
wrist. Judge Burnett and Ken Holt (Brent Davis’ successor now that he’s a
judge) got a little of that action when they tried…
Dr. Spitz is absolute in his conclusions regarding the cause of the
death—all three drowned—and the wounds on Michael Moore, Stevie Branch and
Christopher Byers: they are the result of postmortem animal predation. What
about how Jessie said the kids were beaten with fists and with sticks?
Nonsense! The wounds on the bodies were made after they were dead because
there are no bruises or hemorrhaging of the tissues. (Not to mention the
clothes plucked from the murky water were not torn and had no blood on
them.) The wounds as seen in Dr Frank Peretti’s autopsy photos were not
inflicted by knives of any kind, certainly not the ones pretended to be
evidence at Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin’s trial.
He did allow that some injuries might have been caused antemortem as dying
was a process for the boys, they did not die instantly. I wish Mark Byers
didn’t have to hear details this tragic about his son again and again but
it’s time we finally learned the truth. John Philipsborn went over at least
a score of autopsy photos asking Spitz what could have caused these parallel
lines or what made these irregular indentations with a deeper punc ture at
the top and Spitz’s answer was always that they were consistent with the
claws or teeth of carnivorous animal or aquatic life nipping from
underneath. The salt in blood attracts all kinds predators in fresh water,
especially the foamy mixture of blood and proteins that ooze from a
drowning victim’s mouth after the air sacs (alveoli) in their lungs rupture.
Spitz pointed out how easy it was to see this unmistakable bloody foam on
Stevie Branch’s autopsy sheet in photo 330/48R. Yeah, too bad a board
certified, qualified medical examiner didn’t discover something so obvious.
And while we’re talking about what Dr. Frank Peretti isn’t… The injuries to
the boys’ ears he claimed were caused by forced fellatio were actually
predation by minnows and other marine life that feast almost exclusively on
lips, nostrils, earlobes and eyelids. Spitz offered that the medical
examiner to take all the injuries as a whole to reach his or her
conclusions, not focus on individual ones and try to figure out what an
anomaly happened-- that’s when you (Frank Peretti) make mistakes… Big
Or when a not qualified, not board certified Medical Examiner tailors his
conclusions to back up a false and coerced confession of a 17 year old who
wasn’t even present at the crime scene, who merely regurgitated what the
cops told him to say so that they’d let him go home like they promised to.
Philipsborn asked if these injuries have been caused by some kind of tool or
tools? No! These scratches and puncture marks have absolutely no suggestion
of bleeding or bruising (both take a beating heart and blood pressure)
therefore they were made postmortem. And none of the wounds were caused by
man-made objects. Not a dull or a sharp knife. Not knives-- period! The
puncture wounds are too large and too irregular, any type of knife or tool
will always leave a consistent mark.
Punches (alleged in Jessie’s “confession”) don’t inflict these kinds of
injuries, said Spitz. And if it was a punch, he’d have to understand why a
punch in one place when he can easily identify the totality of all other
wounds. He also puzzled why Peretti would allege a sexual attack had taken
place when his own photos show their anuses were not dilated, distended or
abnormal in any way.
Let me break it down thusly:
None of the wounds on the boys are consistent with wounds that would have
been made by the knives presented at Damien and Jason’s trial, especially
the serrated one used in Fogleman’s infamous “grapefruit” presentation.
None of the wounds back-up Peretti’s conclusions and testimony regarding how
they were sexually attacked, punched or kicked or struck or strangled with
tree branches because their wounds are a result of ANTHROPOPHAGY.
I saved the biggest shocker for last: None of the wounds resulted from
satanic ritualistic activity.
Yes, someone stripped them, hogtied them foot to wrist with shoelaces and
discarded Stevie, Michael and Christopher in the water to die but it
certainly wasn’t Jason, Jessie or Damien. All of the state’s so-called
experts testified at the two trials arrived at their conclusions based upon
the ludicrous “confession” coerced from Jessie Misskelley all day long on
June 3, 1993, audio taping a scant 44 minutes though they owned a video
camera at the WMPD. We know now that not one thing in Jessie’s “confession”
is true (since he wasn’t there to begin with) because some idiotic
detectives that can’t differentiate a knife wound from a raccoon bite
concocted the entire scenario. What a shame their ignorance and prejudice
perpetuated itself until their shameful fiction resulted in the convictons
of three innocent men that have now spent 16 years (and counting) in prison.
And yet when faced with the forensic truth and especially the juror
misconduct, their tactic is to delay delay delay instead of righting this
wrong at long last by saying enough of this nonsense is enough.
JONESBORO, ARKANSAS (KAIT)
Monday, two of the convicted killers of the West Memphis 3 Were in a Region Eight Courtroom.
A rule 37 hearing is underway for Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin.
What the rule 37 hearing will decide is whether or not Misskelley and Baldwin received adequate defense at their original trial in 94.
With retired judge David Burnett presiding, the hearings resumed Monday morning at the Craighead County Court Annex.
Lisa Fancher is a member of the West Memphis 3 Support Fund.
She traveled all the way from California to attend this week's hearings.
Fancher says she doubts the original coroners statements "Absolutely nothing that was put forth at the trial by the state actually happened to those boys."
Baldwin and Misskelley were convicted with Damien Echols of the 19-93 murders of three West Memphis boys-- Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore.
On Monday Doctor Werner Spitz took the stand. Spitz is a retired Forensics Pathologist from Detroit. The focus of his testimony-- forensics.
After reviewing autopsy photos and documentation presented at the original trial, Dr. Spitz addressed evidence that the original verdict was based on.
Fancher, "The premise of the trial was that the children were grabbed by the WM3, tackled down, sexually assaulted and then they were stabbed to death."
From the stand Dr. Spitz told the court that no evidence he could see from the photos supported those claims.
Basically he said nearly all the external marks on the boys were caused by "animal predetation" such as bites from dogs, or water animals.
In his opinion, Dr. Spitz said, "all three died of drowning". Spitz said there was no evidence that a knife was used on the boys.
According to Fancher more experts are slated to take the stand this week.
"This week the most qualified forensic experts in the county such as Dr. Baden, Dr. Ah Poven, Dr. Richard Suveron are going to come out here and testify. "
The hearing should last the rest of the week possibly into next week.
JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - Lawyers for two of the three men convicted of killing three West Memphis 8-year-olds in 1993 asked Circuit Judge David Burnett to step aside from the case Monday, citing his announced plans to seek a state Senate seat.
"I don't have any biases, and your motion is denied," Burnett responded.
Burnett is presiding over a hearing on claims by Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley that they weren't adequately represented by their trial attorneys.
The two were convicted with Damien Echols of the May 1993 killings of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore.
Misskelley was sentenced to life plus 40 years in prison while Baldwin was sentenced to life without parole. Echols was sentenced to be executed.