West Memphis 3 confession, witness corroboration and physical evidence – update
August 22, 2011 Comments Off on West Memphis 3 confession, witness corroboration and physical evidence – update
These articles describe graphic crimes of abuse
Death Penalty Recommended for Teen-Ager March 20, 1994 …Prosecutors presented evidence suggesting Mr. Echols was a devil worshipper and the younger teen-ager his loyal follower. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/20/us/death-penalty-recommended-for-teen-ager.html?scp=18&sq=west+memphis+3+murder+case&st=nyt
Youth Is Convicted In Slaying of 3 Boys In an Arkansas City CORNING, Ark., Feb. 4 The teen-ager, Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr., 18, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a boy whom he had admitted chasing down. He was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of the other two boys….Mr. Misskelley told the police in two tape-recorded interviews that he had watched as his two friends beat the boys, raped two of them and castrated one. The prosecution said the slayings might have been part of a Satanic ritual. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/05/us/youth-is-convicted-in-slaying-of-3-boys-in-an-arkansas-city.html?scp=11&sq=west+memphis+3+murder+case&st=nyt
Jessie Lloyd MISSKELLEY, Jr. v. STATE of Arkansas CR 94-848 S.W.2d Supreme Court of Arkansas Opinion delivered February 19, 1996
On June 3, 1993, the crime having remained unsolved, Detective Sergeant Mike Allen sought the appellant out for questioning. The appellant was not considered a suspect, but it was thought he might have knowledge about Damien Echols, who was a suspect. Detective Allen located the appellant and brought him back to the station, arriving at approximately 10:00 a.m. Later in this opinion, we will address in detail the circumstances surrounding the appellant’s interrogation. For now, it is sufficient to say that the appellant was questioned off and on over a period from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. At 2:44 p.m. and again at approximately 5:00 p.m., he gave statements to police in which he confessed his involvement in the murders. Both statements were tape-recorded….
In the early morning hours of May 5, 1993, the appellant received a phone call from Jason Baldwin. Baldwin asked the appellant to accompany him and Damien Echols to the Robin Hood area. The appellant agreed to go. They went to the area, which has a creek, and were in the creek when the victims rode up on their bicycles. Baldwin and Echols called to the boys, who came to the creek. The boys were severely beaten by Baldwin and Echols. At least two of the boys were raped and forced to perform oral sex on Baldwin and Echols. According to appellant, he was merely an observer.
While these events were taking place, Michael Moore tried to escape and began running. The appellant chased him down and returned him to Baldwin and Echols. The appellant also stated that Baldwin had used a knife to cut the boys in the facial area and that the Byers boy was cut on his penis. Echols used a large stick to hit one of the boys. All three boys had their clothes taken off and were tied up….
The appellant was asked about his involvement in a cult. He said he had been involved for about three months. The participants would typically meet in the woods. They engaged in orgies and, as an initiation rite, killing and eating dogs. He noted that at one cult meeting, he saw a picture that Echols had taken of the three boys. He stated that Echols had been watching the boys….
Damien Echols was observed near the crime scene at 9:30 p.m. on May 5. He was wearing black pants and a black shirt and his clothes were muddy. A witness testified that she had attended a satanic cult meeting with Echols and the appellant….a witness from the State Crime Lab testified that she found fibers on the victims’ clothing which were microscopically similar to items in the Baldwin and Echols residences….
Detective Allen asked him (Misskelley) if he could come with him to the police department to talk about the case. The appellant readily accompanied Allen. He was not handcuffed and rode in the front seat of the car.
The two arrived at the station at approximately 10:00 a.m. Detective Allen and Detective Bryn Ridge questioned the appellant for about an hour when they became concerned that he wasn’t telling the truth. In particular, he denied participation in the cult activity, a statement which was at odds with what other witnesses had said. At this point, the detectives decided to advise the appellant of his rights. Detective Allen read him a form entitled “YOUR RIGHTS,” and verbally advised him of the Miranda rights contained in the form. The appellant responded verbally that he understood his rights and also initialled each component of the rights form. There was no evidence of any promises, threats or coercion.
The form also contained a section entitled “WAIVER OF RIGHTS,” which read as follows:
I have read this statement of my RIGHTS and I understand what my RIGHTS are. I am willing to make a statement and answer questions. I do not want a lawyer at this time. I understand and know what I am doing, no promises or threats have been made to me and no pressure or force has been used against me.
The waiver was signed by the appellant.
After he was advised of his rights and had waived them, the appellant was asked if he would take a polygraph examination. He agreed that he would. Detective Allen took the appellant to look for his father so that his father could grant permission for the appellant to take the polygraph. They observed Mr. Misskelley driving on the same road they were on, stopped him, and received the authorization. There was no evidence of promises, threats or coercion.
Upon returning to the station, Detective Bill Durham, who would administer the polygraph, once again explained the appellant’s rights to him. The appellant verbally indicated he understood, and initialled and signed a second rights-and-waiver form that was identical to the first. http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/1996/cr94-848.html
Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas CR 94-928 S.W.2d Supreme Court of Arkansas Opinion delivered December 23, 1996
Where two witnesses testified that they overheard appellant Echols state that he killed the three boys, this was direct evidence; a confession is sufficient to sustain a conviction if it is accompanied by other proof that the offense was committed by someone….
There was substantial evidence of the guilt of appellant Echols where, among other things, the testimony of witnesses placed him in dirty clothes near the crime scene at a time close to the murders; where two independent witnesses reported Echols’s statement that he had killed the three boys and was direct evidence of the statement; where a criminalist from the State Crime Laboratory and a State Medical Examiner testified concerning the similarity of fibers found on the victim’s clothes with clothing found in Echols’s home and the serrated wound patterns on the three victims that were consistent with, and could have been caused by, a knife found in a lake behind appellant Baldwin’s parents’ residence….
Echols admitted on cross-examination that he had delved deeply into the occult and was familiar with its practices and where various items that had been found in his room supported the State’s theory of motive that the killings were done in a satanic ritual; where an expert in occult killings testified that there was significant evidence of satanic ritual killings; where a detective testified that Echols had made a statement regarding the mutilation of one of the victims that the jury could have reasonably concluded he would not have known about unless he had been involved in some manner; and where Echols’s testimony contained additional evidence of guilt….
Echols admitted on cross-examination in the penalty phase of the trial that he had an altercation with his father in which a knife was involved and the police were called; where he admitted that he was hospitalized that same day and that when his father came to the hospital, “I told him I would eat him alive”; where headmitted that he tried “to claw the eyes out” of a student; and where a psychologist who testified for Echols admitted that Echols had “an all-powerful God-like image of himself,” that his parents were concerned with his satanism or devil worship, and that Echols’s medical records included notations of statements by Echols pertaining, among other things, to his rage and the drinking of the blood of others….
Where one witness testified that appellant Baldwin had told him that he had dismembered one of the boys, sucked the blood from his penis and scrotum, and put the testicles in his mouth, and where an expert on ritual killings stated that one of the facts that led him to believe that the killings were cult-related was that one of the victims had been castrated and had had the blood sucked from his penis, there was sufficient evidence of appellant Baldwin’s participation in occult activities, and the trial court correctly allowed the evidence….
Twelve-year-old Christy VanVickle testified that she heard Echols say he “killed the three boys.” Fifteen-year-old Jackie Medford testified that she heard Echols say, “I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m going to kill two more, and I already have one of them picked out.” The testimony of these two independent witnesses was direct evidence of the statement by Echols….
Dr. Dale Griffis, an expert in occult killings, testified in the State’s case-in-chief that the killings had the “trappings of occultism.” He testified that the date of the killings, near a pagan holiday, was significant, as well as the fact that there was a full moon. He stated that young children are often sought for sacrifice because “the younger, the more innocent, the better the life force.” He testified that there were three victims, and the number three had significance in occultism. Also, the victims were all eight years old, and eight is a witches’ number. He testified that sacrifices are often done near water for a baptism-type rite or just to wash the blood away. The fact that the victims were tied ankle to wrist was significant because this was done to display the genitalia, and the removal of Byers’s testicles was significant because testicles are removed for the semen. He stated that the absence of blood at the scene could be significant because cult members store blood for future services in which they would drink the blood or bathe in it. He testified that the “overkill” or multiple cuts could reflect occult overtones. Dr. Griffis testified that there was significance in injuries to the left side of the victims as distinguished from the right side: People who practice occultism will use the midline theory, drawing straight down through the body. The right side is related to those things synonymous with Christianity while the left side is that of the practitioners of the satanic occult. He testified that the clear place on the bank could be consistent with a ceremony. In sum, Dr. Griffis testified there was significant evidence of satanic ritual killings….
Echols took the witness stand, and his testimony contained additional evidence of guilt. When asked about his statement that one victim was mutilated more than the others, he said he learned the fact from newspaper accounts. His attorney showed him the newspaper articles about the murders. On cross-examination, Echols admitted that the articles did not mention one victim being mutilated more than the others, and he admitted that he did not read such a fact in a newspaper….
Jason Baldwin does not contend that there was insufficient evidence of his guilt. This is, perhaps, in part, because of the testimony of Michael Carson, who testified that he talked to Baldwin about the murders. Carson’s testimony, in pertinent part, was abstracted as follows:
I said, just between me and you, did you do it. I won’t say a word. He said yes and he went into detail about it. It was just me and Jason [Baldwin]. He told me he dismembered the kids, or I don’t know exactly how many kids. He just said he dismembered them. He sucked the blood from the penis and scrotum and put the balls in his mouth. http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/1996a/961223sc/cr94-928.html
Appeal puts 3 Ark. boys’ murders back in spotlight
By Jill Zeman Bleed AP October 2, 2010 (the article discusses both sides of the case in detail)
….Echols’ statement under cross-examination that he was interested in the occult, as well as a funeral register found in his room with hand-drawn pentagrams and upside-down crosses. Echols’ journal was also admitted into evidence, and “it contained morbid images and references to dead children,” the court’s opinion noted. Echols’ statement to police shortly after the murders that he understood the boys had been mutilated, with one suffering more serious injuries. That information hadn’t been released to the public, the opinion said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/02/AR2010100201274.html
Larry King Live “West Memphis 3” Follow-Up
September 7, 2010
During last nights show on the “West Memphis 3,” we shared statements from Diana Moore, mother of murder victim Michael Moore, and the Arkansas Attorney General, whose office will defend the conviction of Damien Echols before the Arkansas Supreme Court later this month….
Statement from Diana Moore, mother of murder victim Michael Moore:
In 1993, all I wanted was justice for Michael, Christopher, and Stevie, and closure for myself, and my family. 17 years later, still no justice, or closure.
Since the convictions, the media has made it a point to make this case all about the convicted. I would like to take this opportunity to remind people that three innocent 8 year old children were brutally murdered, and these three men were convicted on the evidence presented to 24 , (in total), juror members that voted unanimously to convict.
Not one of the celebrities interviewed in this program has ever bothered to personally read the case file at West Memphis PD, or speak to anyone involved in prosecuting this case.
My little boy died that day. I’m his mother, and wish to say that the public remains ignorant about what happened in court primarily as a result of the Paradise Lost films, and the writing of Mara Leveritt. My voice is small compared to theirs, but I believe more relevant. They weren’t there during the trials, and they didn’t lose anybody. I lost almost everything, and not a day goes by that I don’t mourn for Michael. The public should think about that before casting their lot in with Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines.
(Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines also replied to Diana Moore.) http://larrykinglive.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/07/west-memphis-3-follow-up/
Deal Frees ‘West Memphis Three’ in Arkansas
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON August 19, 2011 JONESBORO, Ark.
….Under the terms of a deal reached with prosecutors, Mr. Echols, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Misskelley leave as men who maintain their innocence yet who pleaded guilty to murder, as men whom the state still consider to be child killers but whom the state deemed safe enough to set free.
Last November, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that there was enough evidence to call a hearing to determine whether to have a new trial. The hearing was scheduled for this coming December.
But it was less than three weeks ago that lawyers representing Mr. Echols began working on a deal to offer to prosecutors that would free the men.
Under the seemingly contradictory deal, Judge David Laser vacated the previous convictions, including the capital murder convictions for Mr. Echols and Mr. Baldwin. After doing so, he ordered a new trial, something the prosecutors agreed to if the men would enter so-called Alford guilty pleas. These pleas allow people to maintain their innocence and admit frankly that they are pleading guilty because they consider it in their best interest.
The three men did just that, standing in court and quietly proclaiming their innocence but at the same time pleading guilty to charges of first- and second-degree murder. The judge then sentenced them to 18 years and 78 days, the amount of time they had served, and also levied a suspended sentence of 10 years.
The prosecuting attorney, Scott Ellington, said in an interview that the state still considered the men guilty and that, new DNA findings notwithstanding, he knew of no current suspects. “We don’t think that there is anybody else,” Mr. Ellington said, declaring the case closed.
Asked how he could free murderers if he believed they were guilty, he acknowledged that the three men would likely be acquitted if a new trial were held, given the prominent lawyers now representing them, the fact that evidence has decayed or disappeared over time and the death or change of heart of several original witnesses. He also expressed concern that if the men were exonerated at trial, they could sue the state, possibly for millions of dollars.
“I believe that with all the circumstances that were facing the state in this case, this resolution is one that is palatable and I think that after a period of time it will be acceptable to the public as the right thing,” Mr. Ellington said.