T Nation

West Memphis 3 Hearing Tomorrow


#1

Big news is expected in circuit court in Jonesboro when Judge David Laser holds a hearing Friday morning â?? just announced today â?? on the West Memphis Three case. Families of defendants and victims are expected to be in court, suggesting far more than routine procedural matters are at hand.

None of the interested parties are talking (lawyers are gagged), beyond saying that those interested in the case will want to be present. But I began making calls early this morning when I received a tip from a local attorney predicting earth-shaking developments.

The facts are well-known. Damien Echols, who is on Death Row, and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., who are serving life sentences, were convicted in the 1993 slaying of three West Memphis children â?? Christopher Byers, Stevie Branch and Michael Moore. The trial, though marred by bogus claims of Satanism and shoddy investigative tactics, had withstood appeals until recent developments allowed examination of DNA testing.

To date, none of the DNA gathered in the case has matched any of the defendants. That doesn't exonerate them, but it was powerful new evidence that they weren't involved in the crime. Strong new evidence also was introduced about potential jury misconduct, specifically improper consideration of a statement made by one of the defendants. All that prompted the Arkansas Supreme Court to order a new evidentiary hearing to see whether the defendants were entitled to a new trial. Judge Laser was assigned to hear the case. The previous judge, David Burnett, now is a state senator.

The evidentiary hearing was scheduled for December. The surprise hearing tomorrow alone suggests a major development is at hand. The buzz in the defense bar community is that the news is beyond major. Until now, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office has fought vigorously against new proceedings for the defendants and in support of their convictions. A development tomorrow in which he joined in a defense suggestion would be momentous, indeed.

The judge's office released this statement:

The court will take up certain matters pertaining to the cases of defendants Baldwin, Echols and Misskelley on Friday, August 19. One session will be conducted out of public presence with all defendants present and another session will be conducted in open court. The session conducted in chambers will likely begin at 10 a.m. followed by a public session which will begin about 11 a.m.

Space will be limited for the public session â?? first to the parties, counsel and court personnel, then to family members of the victims and family members of defendants with remaining seating to be occupied by media representatives and the public. There will be approximately 15 minutes between the chamber session and open session for media and public to be seated. Miss Stephanie Harris, Arkansas Supreme Court communication counsel, will be present on Friday to assist with implementation and will be the court's intermediary with public and press.

Mara Leveritt, our senior editor who's done groundbreaking reporting on the case and who wrote the book Devil's Knot about the case, will be in Jonesboro for tomorrow's hearing. She has a subscription website at her homepage for reporting on the case.

Here's the link to video of an Jan. 2011 interview Times reporter David Koon conducted with Jason Baldwin at Tucker Max.


#2

Wow, that's pretty big news.


#3

#4

If you're into these kinds of stories check out these books:

Dreams of Ada by Robert Mayer
The Innocent Man by John Grisham


#5

Anyone see the documentary Murder on a Sunday Morning, could bring a man to tears.


#6

Also check out "The Confession," also by John Grisham.

Its time to let them go, this whole case is bullshit.


#7

So Michael Moore was killed as a child? WHAT WORLD IS THIS?!?


#8

I saw the documentaries and was pretty fascinated by the case, I havent stuck with it but I do remember one of the victim's fathers giving me a bad feeling that he may have been involved.

I also remember the supposed ringleader Damien Echols, basically stating that if he did do it everyone would no him and he would live on forever, or something like that.


#9

I watched a special on this a few years ago. Isn't this the case where Johnny Depp and some other actors got involved with helping these guys out?


#10

There are quite a few famous actors and musicians who've given their support to the West Memphis Three. Here's a snippet from Wikipedia:

In 2002, Henry Rollins worked with other vocalists from various well-known rock, hip hop, punk and metal groups (as well as certain members of Black Flag and the Rollins Band) singing for the compilation album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. All money raised from sales of the album are donated to the legal funds of the West Memphis Three.

On April 28, 2011, the band Disturbed released a b-side from their album Asylum entitled "3". The song, released as an exclusive download on their official website, is about the West Memphis Three with 100% of the proceeds going to their benefit foundation for their release.

Investigative journalist Aphrodite Jones undertook an exploration of the West Memphis Three case following the DNA discoveries on her Discovery Networks show "True Crime With Aphrodite Jones." The episode premiered May 5, 2011, with extensive background information included on the show's page at the Investigation Discovery site.


#11

I live in Memphis - this is everywhere and as always you have extremists on both sides of it. We've been hearing about it for 20 years almost, it's never been swept under the rug.

It'll be an interesting day.


#12

Plea deal could set West Memphis 3 free Friday

Read More: http://wcfcourier.com/news/national/plea-deal-could-set-west-memphis-free-friday/article_9af540b9-e948-50a7-94d4-5ddcabe66d0e.html#ixzz1VUgieESq


#13

they are FREE


#14

Took em long enough!


#15

They were set free this morning!!!


#16

Very glad to hear it.


#17

Even though free without any possibility of a re-trial, they're STILL considered convicts.

Sad part is, these guys, who were just kids when sent to prison, are unable to seek restitution for their time in prison or to profit from works about the case.

What kind of employment can these guys expect? It's like starting over. Hopefully they got some kind of education in the slammer.


#18

That's the worst part of it, typically guys that are wrongfully imprisoned as long as these 3 get millions in restitution. Hopefully they can get a crack team of lawyers to work pro bono and get things right.

I read a good amount about the case after I heard about it in the news. The Arkansas justice system is so fucking ass backwards it just makes you want to scream.


#19

Roadies for Pearl Jam? Eddie Vedder was at the hearing, roadies for the Dixie Chicks? Natalie Maines was at the court room.