Lisa Blount died suddenly at the age of 53 after battling a rare blood disorder for 17 years.
Lisa Blount died suddenly at the age of 53 after battling a rare blood disorder for 17 years.
Please spread the word far and wide and as loud as
possible. We're very, very late in the game on this issue (especially as
early voting has already started in Arkansas).
Rebekah Kennedy is running for Attorney General of Arkansas on the
Green Ticket. Although she isn't making a public statement on a pending
case, it is clear that she supports the West Memphis Three and is
interested in the issue of wrongful convictions in Arkansas. Among other
things, she would establish an Innocence Commission like the one in North
Carolina that would have real teeth to review these cases - not just Jason,
Jessie and Damien, but certainly including them.
The below is from a letter from Damien that will be on the ATA
site shortly -- I certainly couldn't say it any better than he does:
While we're on the topic of unpleasant people, I want to remind everyone
that early voting has started. I want to ask everyone going to vote to
talk to at least one other person about voting for the woman running
against Dustin McDaniel. Explain to one person that even if they don't
agree with all the Green Party's politics, at least she hasn't spent
millions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep innocent people in
prison. At least she hasn't tried to kill an innocent man to keep from
admitting to a mistake. It's entirely possible to get rid of McDaniel if
everyone were to bring one more person on board. You stopped Fogleman
short, and you can do the same to McDaniel.
I disagree only with Damien's request that every supporter get
"one" other voter to vote Green for AG ...... ARKANSANS, PLEASE COMMIT TO
GETTING 10 PEOPLE TO VOTE GREEN. IN ALL PROBABILITY MCDANIELS WILL WIN,
BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO DEFEAT HIM. PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO EVERYONE
YOU KNOW (or forward this one).
McDaniels has a serious integrity issue and has showed an
integrity deficit and allegiance to the "good old boys" club rather than
He had the audacity to state that "fiber evidence links the West
Memphis Three to the murders" publicly, just months after fighting Jason
Baldwin's motion to retest the fibers with modern technology which would
show -- yet again -- "no link to the WM3." This is duplicitous two-faced
nonsense and shows that McDaniels isn't nearly as concerned with justice
and truth as he pretends to be.
What if Damien Echols is executed and THEN we find out that the
fibers not only (again) excluded him, but again linked to (another suspect)?
Rebekah Kennedy - Green Party - the only party calling for the
establishment of an Innocence Commission to review questionable
convictions. Dustin wishes he had the damned guts to stand up and do the
right thing like that!!!
As of this writing, if even 1/3 of the undecided voters go Green,
then Dustin gets his pink slip - With Kennedy as AG, the WM3 could be out
-David Perry Davis, Esq.
Inmate regrets antics in West Memphis trial
By Beth Warren
The Commercial Appeal
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Death row inmate Damien Echols and the stepfather of one of his
alleged victims used to blame each other for the murders of three
8-year-old West Memphis boys.
Now they're pen pals.
Echols, 35, discussed the infamous case, his bizarre courtroom
behavior and his unexpected alliance with a victim's parent during an
interview last week in a glassed-in visiting room at a maximum-security
area of Varner Unit's prison in the rural southeast Arkansas town of
It was a brief reprieve from his typical isolation in a 9-by-12-foot concrete cell.
Once he came across as a morose and haughty teen, with sullen eyes
and a round face. Now, Echols looks gaunt, weathered by his 16 years in
prison for a triple murder he insists he didn't commit. He's calm,
contemplative -- and forgiving.
He and John Mark Byers, adoptive father of victim Christopher Byers,
have exchanged letters and, through them, apologies for publicly
accusing each other of killing the boys.
"We're not exactly friends, but we do have a certain bond," Echols said of Byers.
Echols says he never met Christopher or the second-grader's buddies,
Stevie Branch and Michael Moore, and he never went into the Robin Hood
Hills woods where they were killed. He said he was at home in Marion, a
small community bordering West Memphis, talking on the phone for hours
with a couple of other teens when the murders were committed.
Byers now believes him.
Byers traveled from his home in Millington to Little Rock last month
to support Echols while defense attorneys lobbied the Arkansas Supreme
Court for a new trial. The high court could rule as early as Thursday.
Byers, interviewed by phone Thursday, and Echols, who has been on death
row since age 19, admit their lives share some uncommon parallels.
Both say they trusted police and feel they were betrayed.
Both behaved so erratically after the crimes that many believed it
was proof of their individual guilt. Both regret some of their antics.
And both are convinced another man is to blame.
"I think we will be friends," Byers said of Echols.
Byers said he has already apologized through tears to Echols'
codefendants, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., while shaking
their hands at a hearing last year. The two are serving life sentences.
It's a stark turnaround for Byers, who called the three teens "evil
animals" and fashioned their mock graves, setting the ground on fire
and dancing around the flames.
When Echols was arraigned, Byers was among the mob angrily shouting for Echols to go to hell.
Before Echols' trial, Byers' wife, Melissa, who has since died,
described her hatred of Echols on camera for the HBO documentary
"Paradise Lost," which chronicles the case: "I hope he busts hell wide
open," she said. "And if I could get my hands on him, I would eat the
skin off of his face."
Byers said police and prosecutors convinced the couple they had
proof that Echols, Baldwin, then 16, and Misskelley, then 17, sexually
abused, tortured and killed the boys during a Satanic ritual.
Echols said he, too, was misled by police. At age 18, he agreed to talk with investigators without an attorney.
At a time when police had not released details of the crimes, Echols
made several damning comments to police, according to police reports.
Those details include that the boys were mutilated, with one being
cut more than the others, and that the bodies were placed in water and
may have drowned.
Echols said he believes investigators fed him details about the crime.
"They said: 'Do you think it's possible one of them was cut more than
the others?' And I said: 'Sure. It's possible.' I didn't know."
Police reports stated that Echols volunteered those critical details. The police interviews were not recorded.
And when police interviewed Misskelley, then age 16 and identified as
borderline mentally retarded, Misskelley gave them a confession that
proved key to the convictions of the group, known collectively as the
West Memphis Three.
During a 12-hour interrogation, Misskelley told police that Echols
and Baldwin sodomized, beat and stabbed the victims and threw them in a
watery drainage ditch. Misskelley told them one of the boys tried to
run, and that he caught and returned the child.
Most of the interview was not recorded.
Echols said he thinks Misskelley, who later recanted his confession,
was manipulated by police. "The police basically tortured a mentally
retarded child until he said what they wanted him to say," he said.
Echols said he isn't angry at Misskelley or Byers, and that he tries
to forgive police and prosecutors, for his own sake. "If you sit and
stew and soak in anger and bitterness, you're going to poison your own
heart and kill whatever parts of yourself that they didn't," he said.
He said when he was arrested in 1993, he lashed out, masking his fear
with arrogance and contempt. During his trial, he glared at the
victims' families, licking his lips and hissing.
"Your average person won't understand," he said of that behavior.
"Whenever you have your entire life destroyed and you've been set up,
you're in so much shock and trauma.
"That was trauma for me on a scale I can't begin to articulate."
When asked if his behavior could have helped convict him, Echols
said: "On the surface, I would say: 'Yes.' " But, he added that he
believes the public had already turned against him due to pretrial
Tensions in the community were so high, police fastened bulletproof
vests around Echols and his co-defendants to protect them before moving
them through crowds. Echols said he didn't know how to react to the
hate and condemnation from "the mob."
"I was a teenager sucked into a world I didn't understand," he said.
"You're raised to believe the police are the good guys, that you're
innocent until proven guilty. In reality, that's not how the system
During the 1994 trial, Echols said he never considered that he would
be convicted. He said he thought, "There's going to be a 'Perry Mason'
moment where whoever actually did it will be exposed."
In retrospect, he said, he would have censored his courtroom behavior.
Byers also said he would alter his own outrageous antics, captured on
camera for the HBO documentary, including blasting a pumpkin with
gunfire while pretending he was killing Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley.
"I was very embarrassed by a lot of my behavior," Byers said during
an interview Thursday. "Rage and anger and emotion had totally taken
Many, including Echols, began to suspect Byers could have been
responsible. He had been so angry at his stepson's routine rule-breaking
that he had whipped him with a belt just a few hours before the child
But new DNA evidence, available in 2007 due to advancements in DNA testing, raised questions.
A hair matching Terry Wayne Hobbs, stepfather of victim Stevie
Branch, was found in a knot tied in a shoelace used to bind Michael's
wrist to his ankle. Another hair, found on a stump at the crime scene,
was similar to David Jacoby, whom Hobbs had seen within an hour before
the boys disappeared, according to court records.
Echols' attorneys are lobbying for a new trial using that DNA
evidence, along with new witnesses who say they saw Hobbs with the boys
just before they disappeared.
Echols won't name who he believes is to blame for the crimes, but Byers has publicly accused Hobbs.
Hobbs, of Memphis, has denied any involvement in the crimes and police have never considered him a suspect.
Byers said he's saying daily prayers for a new trial for Echols. "I
know the day's going to come in court before too long where we can lock
eyes even if we don't get to shake hands," Byers said.
"I told him in my letter: 'We're tied together for life.'"
-- Beth Warren: 529-2383
Please join members of Arkansas Take Action in a community walk to show support for the West Memphis Three. They will meet in Little Rock's River Market District to start the 1-mile walk at 3:00 PM on Sunday, November 7. You don't have to be local to donate! All funds raised go toward the WM3's defense. Click here for more details!
The subversion of justice by attempting to keep the truth from the public, another unconscionable act revealed! A spokesman for the Supreme Court said this week that the affidavit was provided "inadvertently" and that, even now, the document remains sealed. We now unseal the infamous 10-page affidavit the court clerk provided to Mara Leveritt. The reason for the judge's order is obvious: Jason and Damien were denied their constitutional right to a fair trial when the jury foreman had dozens of conversations with this lawyer -- often regarding Jessie's inadmissible "confession"-- while their trial was in progress. The state of Arkansas must do the right thing and either retry the West Memphis 3 now or set them free.
Photos by Mara Leveritt
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel declined an interview with the AP on the case. But in 2008, shortly after Echols filed the appeal now before the state Supreme Court, he said he was confident in the verdicts.
"I'm growing increasingly frustrated by what I see as a misleading press campaign to suggest that there's new DNA evidence that in some way exonerates these boys that a jury found guilty and whose appeals they all lost. There is no new DNA evidence that exonerates these boys at all," McDaniel said. If there was, he added, "I would be the first one to start approaching the governor on options on bringing justice to the matter."
And one from the time of the hearing just for good measure:
Arkansas real estate developer Kent Arnold seemed determined to send Damien Echols, 18, to death row despite an unsettling lack of evidence in the case against him, according to Arnold's former attorney.
There are a million and one [million] causes to fight for in one lifetime. If you are reading this, chances are, you are not a subject in one of these countless causes. Tomorrow, October 10th, the world celebrates the Day Against the Death Penalty, and so I am taking advantage to preach for one of my causes: Abolish the Death Penalty.
Last week, Dennis Riordan, an attorney representing Damien Echols, one of the men now known as the West Memphis Three, argued before the Arkansas Supreme Court that his client deserved a new trial based on DNA and other evidence accumulated since Echols was sentenced to death in 1994. The state argued the opposite. At issue is each side's interpretation of the state's DNA statute and the "intent" behind the law that grants access to DNA testing, and possibly relief, for those wrongly convicted of crimes.
The Skeleton Key auction of the signed Cure's "Disintegration" LP will end at 4:43PM tomorrow, October 6. Please register and bid on it so you don't miss out on this one of a kind item! Remember: ALL Skeleton Key auction proceeds go to Arkansas Take Action, a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization for the legal defense fund of the WM3.
“Please bid generously and help free the West Memphis Three - this grotesque miscarriage of justice has dragged on for 17 years too long.”
Robert Smith, The Cure.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Attorneys for convicted killer Damien Echols asked the Arkansas Supreme Court for a new trial.
Echols was convicted of being the ring-leader in the West Memphis 3 case where three boys were murdered in 1993.
Lawyers for Echols argued, that new DNA evidence proves Echols did not kill the boys. Echols is currently on death row for the killings.
Meanwhile, prosecutors said the state's highest court should uphold a lower court's ruling and should not grant him a re-trial.
The court's ruling is expected within the next few weeks.
After 17 years of this case, emotions still run high for the people involved. FOX13's Les Smith was in the courtroom on Thursday, and he offers some insight on how people were reacting.
Also, 17 years after their convictions, there's still a lot of legal wrangling in the West Memphis 3 case. Famed defense attorney Leslie Ballin talks about what DNA evidence may mean in this case.
By Mara Leveritt
Trying to remain unbiased
I've been pretty outspoken these past few years regarding the West Memphis Three. In August 2010, when Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, legendary singer Patti Smith and actor Johnny Depp took to a stage in Little Rock for a sold-out concert on behalf of these three men, I appeared along with death-row prisoner Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three, in a short video that was shown during the performance.My role was to help explain the status of Echols' appeals. I did that, and added, for the benefit of the Arkansas audience, "This is our case and it's our disgrace."I haven't always been so unreserved. When I wrote Devil's Knot, I worked hard to tell the story of the murders, the investigation and the trials as fairly and accurately possible, without inserting my opinion. I believed that only a thorough and rigorously unbiased account would allow readers to see for themselves the stunning audacity of the charges, the emptiness of the prosecutions, and the shameful judicial hand-washing that has sustained the convictions since.In 2002, when Devil's Knot was published, one reviewer called the book "a deft and even-handed account of a legal travesty," and other reviewers agreed. Only Fiona Steel, in her review on this site, perceived a "clear bias" in my book and suspected that "some aspects of the story may be missing" because of it.
Finish reading this rest of this masterpiece here...
Just a note of warning -- sick, hate mail will be deleted from this blog. And so will complaints about 'censorship' when they are in fact deleted. If you have something constructive and interesting to say about the opposing view, fine. But anything more than that will go bye-bye.
Did you miss it? Watch the entire hearing here, thanks to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Updates will feature interviews with Damien Echols and Mark Byers to bolster Echols' legal team's recent oral arguments. Watch the video of Damien speaking about his motion here. These episodes were bumped and we'll get you the correct dates as soon as we know them! Sorry for any tivo inconvenience.