Ark. Supreme Court decides in favor of West Memphis 3 Damien Echols’ appeal

Damien Echols
Damien Echols(Action News 5)
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 4:12 PM CDT
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an appeal made by one of the West Memphis Three, ruling against the Arkansas Attorney General’s efforts to delay a decision to refuse DNA testing using state-of-the-art M-vac technology in a nearly 30-year-old murder case.

Damien Echols is still attempting to prove his innocence in the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.

It was a unanimous decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court back in 2010 that reopened the West Memphis Three case. Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelly were all three convicted in the 1993 murder.

The victims, Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch were killed in what was believed to be a satanic ritual.

Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were convicted of the brutal crimes in 1994.

West Memphis Three
West Memphis Three(Action News 5)

They were released in 2011 after taking an Alford Plea, accepting a guilty plea while maintaining their innocence.

In June 2022, Judge Tonya Alexander determined that Echols did not have the right to forensic evidence since he was not currently incarcerated.

The court determined that it lacked the authority to require the use of cutting-edge DNA testing on evidence in the 1993 case.

Echols’ appeal asked the Supreme Court to reverse Judge Alexander’s decision and to remand the case back to the Circuit Court for a full hearing on the merits of Echols’ request for this new scientific testing.

“Ten years ago, I had no choice but to take an Alford plea to get off death row,” Echols said. “I needed to fight for my innocence, and that of Jason and Jesse, outside of the prison walls. And that is why I sought to test the evidence in the case to exonerate us and lead to the real killer(s). Once we made inquiries to the West Memphis Police to turn over the evidence in the case for advanced testing, we were told that the evidence disappeared. While the state continues to fight that effort, we are hopeful that the Arkansas Supreme Court will recommend that the Circuit allow DNA testing.”

(Left to right) Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers
(Left to right) Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers(Action News 5)

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