Back in July, Pam Hobbs, mother of one of the three murdered eight-year-olds, questioned the validity of the convictions of Echols, Jessie Misskelly, and Jason Baldwin. Hobbs' son, Stevie Branch, was brutally murdered along with Christopher Byers and Michael Moore in 1993.
Echols, Misskelly and Baldwin were arrested and convicted almost immediately, due in part to a statement made by Misskelly, who is borderline mentally retarded. Misskelly changed his confession several times. The time he claimed the crime took place was later established to be a time when the three victims were in school, as was Jason Baldwin. Echols was at a doctor's appointment and Misskelley himself was at work at the time Misskelley said the boys were killed.
In addition to the new DNA evidence, which has been connected to Stevie Branch's stepfather Terry Hobbs, Echols' attorneys say members of the jury which sentenced their client to death made misleading statements when questioned during voir dire. They also considered Misskelley's confession during deliberation, despite being told not to do so by the trial judge.
The case has been followed with much interest in the Wiccan and Pagan community, in part because Echols' trial involved accusations of Satanism made by a so-called occult expert, whose credentials later turned out to be bogus. At the time of the murders, Echols was a 17-year-old who dressed in dark clothes, listened to heavy metal music, and told people he practiced Wicca. The ensuing rush to judgement in the case has been blamed by many on "Satanic panic", which overtook the small rural community of West Memphis.
Is Damien Echols innocent? Probably. Did he get a fair trial from the folks in West Memphis? Not a chance in hell.