Saturday, September 18, 2010


It's been a while, as the notorious WEST MEMPHIS THREE case (early 90's Robinhood Hill murders. *See the documentary's PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS one and two-PARADISE LOST REVELATIONS for more info.) continues as Jessie Miskelly, Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols are claiming innocence regarding their convictions of the murders of three boys in West Memphis Arkansas. The West Memphis Three trial was considered biased against Wiccans, metal heads as the verdict was considered knee jerk "Satanic Panic".
DAMIEN ECHOLS is currently on death row appealing his verdict after over 17 years (appealing for a new trial)imprisonment. DAMIEN ECHOLS case goes to the Arkansas State Supreme Court ( 9/30/2010) for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence for a new trail.
Damien Echols' legal team will present oral arguments before the Arkansas State Supreme Court in Little Rock at 9am on Thursday, September 30. Please join Grove, me and WM3 supporters from here and abroad as we fill the courthouse and respectfully listen to the proceedings. Damien will not be present in the court, only his attorneys.

Upon the hearing's conclusion, supporters will carry a massive banner of "Free the WM3" postcards from all over the world from the ASSC to the steps of the Capitol building. For more information on the Arkansas State Supreme Court, click here . See you on September 30!
On Sept. 30, the Arkansas Supreme Court will hold a hearing to determine
whether Damien Echols, one of the men now known as the West Memphis Three,
will get a new trial. Nearly two weeks ago, some of the West Memphis Three's
most famous supporters gathered in Little Rock for "Voices for Justice," an
event to raise awareness about the case and Echols' hearing. The event was
considered a huge success by organizers, but the concert and star-studded
press conference that preceded it perhaps overshadowed a key impediment to
the three's efforts to get a new trial.

According to Dennis Riordan, an attorney for Echols, the attorney general's
interpretation of the state's DNA statute, if accepted by the court, will
not only keep Echols and co-defendants Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley
behind bars, but it also could prevent anyone from ever being granted a new
trial based on DNA evidence.

"This case has significance far beyond [the West Memphis Three], in terms of
Arkansas society and protection of the act, passed this decade in line with
all of the wrongful convictions in the country, to have a mechanism by which
those convictions can be rectified. That's what will be at stake at the
court proceeding at the end of [this] month," Riordan said at the press

In a brief filed in the case, Riordan argues the attorney general is urging
the court to "interpret the state's DNA statutory scheme so as to make it
functionally impossible for the wrongly convicted to gain relief."

In 2001, the Arkansas legislature passed a law granting post-conviction
access to DNA testing for those potentially wrongfully convicted of their
crimes. Since then,

DNA testing in the West Memphis Three case (the three were convicted in 1994
for 1993 crimes) turned up no trace of the defendants on evidence taken from
the crime scene. The DNA evidence did suggest that a hair found in the rope
used to tie up the victims belonged to Terry Hobbs, stepfather of one of the
victims. Neither absence nor presence of DNA alone is proof of guilt or

Attorney General McDaniel has argued that using DNA evidence to overturn a
conviction could be an unconstitutional conflict with the governor's
clemency power.

"Such a request for relief from a criminal judgment without a claim of error
in the underlying proceedings," the attorney general wrote in a circuit
court brief, "is a request for clemency, vested in the Governor... The
General Assembly cannot delegate this power to the courts without infringing
on the governor's powers."

Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for McDaniel, later said in an e-mail that "the
statute can be interpreted consistently with that power when interpreted
only to provide a new trial." Which is all Echols's attorneys are asking

"The attorney general's interpretation of the statute ensures a convicted
defendant the ability to establish his innocence. Such proof must be a very
high bar, and is not likely to often, if ever, be met in cases like this in
which DNA evidence offers little proof either way," Sadler wrote.

But that's exactly the problem, Riordan says.

"If they're saying they're not proposing a demise of the DNA statute then
they're dodging and weaving," he says. "What they say is if you think about
it, DNA alone can never ever prove somebody innocent. They say that doesn't
prove someone's innocence because maybe he was standing next to the guy that
actually did it and maybe he's an accomplice. So, all DNA testing can prove
is that it wasn't your DNA, it doesn't mean you weren't in on the crime. So
alone it can never be enough."

The attorney general essentially agreed with this position in a court

"The forum the statute provides may well never yield relief due to
confidence that the Arkansas criminal-justice system does not convict the
innocent..." McDaniel wrote.

So who's right? That will be decided at the hearing. University of Arkansas
at Little Rock Bowen School of Law professor Felecia Epps says it comes down
to two views that are polar opposites.

"The defense, based on the absence of DNA and the presence of the DNA from
other people, want to use the statute to be able to go back and get all the
evidence at the trial questioned again, bring in all the things that we've
heard since this trial went down," Epps says. "They want to say that under
the statute you can do all that. The attorney general wants it the other way
and really wants to say, look, you're limited to what you presented at trial
and the only way this DNA evidence would be helpful is if it actually showed
that you were not guilty. The language does support the defense when you
look at that."

McDaniel says Arkansas still provides meaningful opportunities for
defendants to overturn their convictions and that Riordan's fears are

The real question is if the state is so sure of the guilt of these three
men, then why not grant them a new trial? The attorney general's office had
no response.

"That's a good question," says Epps. "Sometimes we're interested in finality
and we make these slippery slope arguments like, if you do this here that's
going to open the door for all kinds of other cases to be re-litigated. And
that might be what the legislature intended. In some instances, if a
situation isn't crystal clear, or there's any ambiguity there, the defense
gets the benefit of that. So maybe the defense should get the benefit here
and if the legislature thinks that's not correct, they'll come back and
change it."

Thanks-Stay Metal, Stay Brutal-FREE THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE-\m/ -l-