He says he's innocent and is appealing his
conviction. Echols' legal team presented oral
arguments before the Arkansas State Supreme Court
at 9 a.m. Thursday.
More than two hours before Echols appeal hearing,
a line started forming outside the Arkansas Supreme
Court building. It was a crowd of about 200, most of
them West Memphis Three supporters.
Stewart Faulks came all the way from Australia. He
says, "I am not only here to raise awareness but to
see justice finally served."
Attorney Dennis Riordan told the high court
Thursday that Damien Echols' case should be sent
back to a circuit court for an evidentiary hearing.
However, Senior Assistant Attorney General David
Raupp argues that Echols has not proven that there
was a constitutional flaw in his trial or an error
relating to the evidence.
Thursday's Statement from Attorney General
"Today, attorneys from our office appeared before
the Arkansas Supreme Court to again address the
post-trial motions filed in this case. It is a testament
to the fact that our system affords inmates multiple
opportunities to be heard that this matter remains in
court more than a decade after the jury rendered its
"Our priority in this case is the same as it is in
every case: To pursue justice and fairness with
integrity and professionalism. The trial-court judge
ruled that the standard to invalidate the jury's
verdict and retry this case has not been met. Our
lawyers defended that ruling today in reliance upon
"Our justice system affords safeguards to protect
the rights of all. That includes not only defendants,
but also, in this case, the three innocent little boys
who were viciously murdered in 1993."
According to a Supreme Court spokesperson, the
justices normally take two to three weeks to make a
decision, but there is no time limit.
This case has received world wide attention, so
Arkansas Supreme Court officials are bracing
themselves for a large crowd. Echols tells Today's
THV people were expected from as far away as
California and South Carolina.
Echols' lawyers and the state each got 20 minutes to
argue their case before the seven Supreme Court
Justices. The time limit may seem short. However,
Echols says they are quite familiar with this case.
They've been reviewing the briefs and new evidence
for two years now, according to Echols.
Cameras were recently installed in the court, so
proceedings were streamed live online. It's a first in
state history. The video of the oral arguments made
for Damien Echols is archived on the Arkansas
Supreme Court website and can be watched at any
Today's THV spoke to Damien Echols from death
row. He says, "I have more hope about the Arkansas
State Supreme Court hearings than I did six months
or a year ago. I am not exactly sure why. Maybe it's
because they are going to have cameras in the court
room where people can actually see what's going
on. I think that has been a lot of the problem with
this case from the very beginning is the lack of
transparency. I know that I don't have anything to
hide. I'm not covering anything up."
Echols argues for a new trial because DNA found at
the scene doesn't match the three men but rather
one of the victim's stepfather, Terry Hobbs. Plus,
there are three witnesses claiming they saw Hobbs
with the boys shortly before they disappeared.
Finally, there's a sworn affidavit that the original
jury foreman engaged in juror misconduct.
Riodran says, "Obviously we would like to get to a
new trial as quickly as possible but there are sound
legal reasons that the court may feel like the
appropriate remedy is in the evidentiary hearing."
Until then, Echols' wife Lorri Davis will keep
working. She explains, "I think you continue to look
for evidence. You continue to work for justice and I
think that we want to see, to find out who actually
committed these murders and I am hoping everyone
involved works to that end."
Echols adds, "I can wait. I have time. I have done it
for 17.5 years. Another year or so, I take naps
longer than that now."
His attorneys argue he deserves a new trial because
he's innocent and that DNA evidence showed no
trace of him at the crime scene. Attorneys for the
state say Echols received a fair trial and that the
jury's verdict should stand.
The victims are Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and
Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were also
convicted. They are serving life sentences.
(Source: Today's THV and The Associated Press)