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Patti Wigington

WM3: New Motion for Damien Echols

By October 30, 2007

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For those of you following the case of the West Memphis Three, a 200-page writ has been filed by Damien Echols' attorney in federal court. The motion requests that the court overturn Echols' conviction based on new evidence, including tests that failed to reveal any DNA evidence on the victims that linked the killings to Echols or the other two defendants.

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.
Comments
November 9, 2007 at 9:50 am
(1) Randee says:

unfortunate we live in such a close minded world. We are so quick to judge just based on someone’s appearance and beliefs. If we could just open our eyes and see that things aren’t so one sided just b/c someone decided to write a book called the bible creating a fear that whatever the book says is noted as truth making everything else evil, and you know what that means. It’s unfortunate that this has happened and I hope the truth will prevail.

November 9, 2007 at 11:10 am
(2) M. Raven Aubin says:

As an Ordained High Priestess I have seen many injustices when it comes to anyone who has any Pagan affiliation. This is due in part to ignorance. I’m not saying the world is ignorant or that people in general are stupid, but it is easier to simply pass off all the hype about anyone who practices a religion that isn’t mainstream. I cannot say that ALL Catholic Priests are child molesters anymore than a Christian can say that all Pagans are Satanists. Pagan simply means you don’t practice a Christ-based religion. It does not mean you are evil, insane, prone to violence or a morally questionable character. Ignorance breeds fear and until people are PROPERLY educated there will always be fear when the word Pagan is uttered. Obviously there are many “classifications” of Pagan religions, but we as a group must learn tolerance and with ACTION rather than force, try to change the perception of who we are.

November 11, 2007 at 7:41 am
(3) Moondaughter says:

I fail to see how any Pagan could be an “ordained” anything, as the term “ordained” is redolent with xtian requirements (my initial knee-jerk reaction was “hmmm, can you say holier than thou?”), and in reality, “Pagan” simply means “country dweller”, as defined by the Merriam-Webster folks, not non-xtian per se. Before I ever became one, the term meant “free” to me, and it means that to me more than ever now, but I wouldn’t go about telling people that “free” is the definition.

Some of us might refer to ourselves as degreed, based on time invested and a certain deed having been done. It’s all subjective though. And when you say “properly” educated, that’s also subjective. The general public has no idea, and most of them are perfectly happy to stay that way. Disseminating this belief system among them is much like swimming upstream to spawn – you just might get yourself killed in the process.

November 12, 2007 at 11:19 am
(4) justin says:

We’ve all seen this story a hundred times . . . .well maybe three times. Get used to it, or become a lawyer.

November 12, 2007 at 6:11 pm
(5) Aradiaoftheshadows says:

When something bad happens, ignorance always takes over. This is what happened in this case. I said that these young men were not guilty from the beginning. Now DNA evidence speaks up. When is someone going to wake up and actually do something about this misjustice? After the needle has done it’s awful deed?

Blessed Be~Aradiaoftheshadows

December 20, 2007 at 4:11 am
(6) Nancy says:

I just watched the interview with Damien by Larry King.
I first saw the documentary Robin Hood Hills on HBO. At first I couldn’t believe how open ALL the characters were, but then I watched in disbelief as the three were found guilty. Based on what I heard at the trial it was impossible. There was absolutely no evidence of guilt.
I am glad that there is now a real possiblilty of releasing all 3 young men; but the state of Arkansas scares me to death. There have been other attempts to make it clear that these 3 are innocent and Arkansas didn’t want to have to say it had made an error.

August 19, 2008 at 2:08 pm
(7) afriendofdamien says:

the state of ark did make a huge mistake when they found the three guilty of murder cause the was even around that area the time the 8year olds got kill so damien jessie and jason need to be freed cause they are 100% innocent

September 26, 2008 at 8:03 am
(8) Andrea says:

It’s utterly clear that this is a case of injustice.

Now that the men are going through their appeals there is NO WAY that Judge Burnett should be residing over them.

The U.S judicial system should be ashamed of itself.

Even the laws that protect the innocent aren’t helping them. The U.S brought in a new law in 2000. But yet, it’s not helping them. And why?

There is not a chance that Burnett will want to see these 3 found innocent – especially since he has one nice retirement package coming to him soon.

This is just sickening.

October 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm
(9) Shay says:

I have been following this case sinse I was a teen, I am 25 now. This case has made me cry and be so raging mad, so many emotions. I believe with all of my heart and soul that Damien and all of those boys that are locked up for this are innocent! So sad because it is a tradgedy in a tradgedy. Now these boys lose their lives and the innocent victoms that were so cruelly and coldly murdered do not even get justice! I think everyone know whom the real murderer is! I praying for the WM3!

August 13, 2009 at 8:39 pm
(10) delana dooley says:

THIS IS A TERRIBLE INJUSTICE…THE POLICE, INVESTIGATORS, DETECTIVES, AS WELL AS THE “SO CALLED- PROFESSIONALS” WHO PROCESSED THE CRIME SCENE WERE NEGLIGENT IN SO MANY WAYS. THERE SHOULD BE A NEW TRIAL AND THE ONLY REASON THEY HAVEN’T GRANTED ONE BEFORE IS NOONE WANTS TO ACCEPT AND ADMIT WRONGFUL CONVICTION AND DONT WANT TO LET THIS MAN OUT DUE TO THE FACT THAT HE WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE BECAUSE OF THIS .. THEY ARE JUST LOOKING AT IT AS “WE HAVE THE KILLERS- LEAVE IT ALONE” THIS IS SOMEONES LIFE AND JUSTICE NEEDS TO BE SERVED TO THE REAL KILLER…I FEEL LIKE THE REAL KILLER IS OUT THERE AND NEEDS TO BE FOUND AND NOONE IS READY TO DEAL WITH THAT…….

May 4, 2010 at 9:02 am
(11) DORIS MCCASLAND says:

THE ONLY THING THESE BOYS WERE GUILTY OF WAS BEING IN THE WRONG PLACE AND NOT HAVING MONEY FOR THE CROOKED JUSTICE SYSTEM. SO … THEY LOOSE. 4 NOW. THESRS A MUCH BIGGER JUDGE IN THE END

May 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm
(12) sheilab says:

I recently heard of this story and could not believe what I was watching. It made me so angry. I do hope for bad things for Gitchell, Burnett and all the other SOB.s who put those boys away. The guards to that have been beating them. I hope you get yours.

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