Judge denies retesting of DNA evidence in West Memphis Three case

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:10 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:28 PM CDT

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - A Crittenden County judge denied a West Memphis Three suspect’s call for retesting DNA.

The request came after what was thought to be lost evidence was found last year.

The hearing brought out a slew of supporters who are convinced the killers of three young boys have never been brought to justice.

Tina Musgrove and her entire family drove to West Memphis, Arkansas, from Dayton, Ohio, to joins dozens of other supporters outside the West Memphis Courthouse.

“I have followed the West Memphis 3 cases since 1996 in great part because I was a goth kid before goth was cool. I really related to Damien Echols,” said Musgrove.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were convicted in the 1993 murder of three 8-year-old boys, believed to be killed in a satanic ritual.

Evidence thought to be destroyed was found last year at the West Memphis Police Department--ligatures used to bound the children were discovered with DNA still intact.

Echols and his attorney petitioned the courts to retest the evidence using a new process called M-VAC, which is a system using a wet vacuum method.

The request was denied.

“Disappointment, you know extreme disappointment because I thought someone within the system would care about justice being done,” said Echols after the hearing.

The West Memphis 3 was released from prison in 2011 on an Alford plea, a guilty plea while a defendant maintains their innocence.

Because Echols was technically a free man, a judge ruled he could not request the testing of evidence.

”Well, we are going to appeal it because I think this is an interesting issue because there’s no case law that says someone can’t use that DNA provision when they are out of custody,” said Echols attorney Patrick Benca.

If there is another hearing, many people in this crowd including Musgrove will be back.

She was inspired to go to law school because of this case. She says she’s hoping justice will be served.

“I hope so. Not just for Damien or Jason or Jessie, but for those three little boys that were brutally murdered,” said Musgrove.

The prosecution in this case says the M-VAC method to test DNA is not scientifically sound, plus he says testing the evidence would create due process concerns involving the two other defendants in this case.

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