WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Damien Echols was back in court, this time requesting that prosecutors provide DNA evidence for laboratory testing.
Teenagers in the ‘90s, Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were a part of the West Memphis Three case, accused of murdering three children.
On May 5, 1993, in West Memphis, victims Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers were last seen riding their bikes. By the next day, the bodies of the children were located in a drainage ditch.
A month later, Echols, Misskelley, Jr., and Baldwin were charged with three counts of capital murder based on the prosecution’s argument that the suspects murdered the children in an occult ceremony. (ABC 7)
By 1994, the court sentenced Miskelley to life plus 40 years in prison, Baldwin got life in prison, and Echols was sentence to death. After nearly two decades, Echols, Misskelley, Jr. and Baldwin were released.
It was not until 2007 that DNA collected at the scene of the crime was tested. All the while, the West Memphis 3 were serving their time in the harshest of realities. The collected DNA was not a match for any of the accused perpetrators.
As part of the Alford plea deal, Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were released from prison.
December of 2021, Echol’s attorney gained pertinent access to the DNA evidence in hopes of finally exonerating Echols, Misskelley, Jr., and Baldwin. The defense attorney argues that the evidence remains testable and in good condition.
Last month, a hearing was scheduled with a Crittenden County Judge in hopes that the DNA would be tested with new technology that could analyze DNA on ligatures that were found on the victims. (Fox 13 Memphis)
In a shocking decision, the judge claimed that she was not able to grant the DNA testing request due to a statute requiring that the petitioners must still be in prison.
In a YouTube video, Echols spoke out about Judge Tonya M. Alexander’s decision and the whole experience of that day. The hearing was scheduled for 9:30 A.M. He expressed that all supporters, media, Echols and the defense team were made to stand in the parking lot for a lengthy period of time. Echols shared that the judge only allowed 15 people into the courtroom. He described Judge Alexander as already having made her decision before the hearing even took place.
An appeal is planned with a strong belief that the evidence will lead to the exoneration of all three.