West Memphis Three: Wikis

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The West Memphis 3 is the name given to three teenagers who were tried and convicted of the murders of three children in the Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Arkansas, United States in 1993. Damien Echols was sentenced to death. Jessie Misskelley, Jr., was sentenced to life in prison, plus 40 years (he received two 20-year sentences in addition to the life sentence). Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The case has received considerable attention. Their supporters believe the arrests and convictions were a miscarriage of justice and that the defendants were wrongfully convicted during a period of intense media scrutiny. The defendants remain imprisoned, but legal proceedings are ongoing. As of July 2007, new forensic evidence was being presented in the case.

A status report jointly issued by the State and the Defense team on July 17 states, "Although most of the genetic material recovered from the scene was attributable to the victims of the offenses, some of it cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants." On October 29, 2007, the defense filed a Second Amended Writ of Habeas Corpus, outlining the new evidence.[1]

In September 2008, Judge David Burnett (Circuit Court) denied Echols' application for a hearing on the new DNA evidence. Hearings for Baldwin and Misskelley were scheduled to continue in August, 2009.

Echols' next stage in the legal process is an appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Unless that court reverses the conviction, he will proceed to federal court on his pending writ of habeas corpus.[citation needed]



Three eight-year-old boys — Steve Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore — were reported missing on May 5, 1993. The first report to the police was made by Byers' adoptive father, John Mark Byers, around 7:00 pm. The boys were last seen together entering Robin Hood Hills around 6:00 pm by a neighbor.[2] Initial police searches made that night were limited.[3] Friends and neighbors also conducted an impromptu but unsuccessful search that night, which included a cursory visit to the location where the bodies were ultimately found.[3]

A more thorough police search for the children began around 8:00 am on the morning of May 6, aided by Crittenden County Search and Rescue personnel. Searchers canvassed all of West Memphis, but focused primarily on Robin Hood Hills, a frequent playground for children and the last location where the boys were reported seen. Despite a human chain making a shoulder-to-shoulder search of Robin Hood Hills, searchers found no sign of the missing boys. Search and Rescue personnel broke for lunch at 1:00 pm, but police and others continued searching.[citation needed]

Around 1:45 pm, Juvenile Parole Officer Steve Jones spotted a boy's black shoe floating in a muddy creek that led to a major drainage canal in Robin Hood Hills.[2] A subsequent search of the ditch found the bodies of three boys. They were stripped naked and had been hogtied with their own shoelaces: their right ankles tied to their right wrists behind their backs, the same with their left limbs. Their clothing was found in the creek, some of it twisted around sticks that had been thrust into the muddy ditch bed. The clothing was mostly turned inside-out; two pairs of the boys' underwear were never recovered.[4] All of the boys had been severely beaten on their heads and faces, and Byers had a fractured skull. He also had deep lacerations and injuries to his scrotum and penis.[5]

The original autopsies were inconclusive as to time of death,[citation needed] but the Arkansas medical examiner determined that Byers died of blood loss, and Moore and Branch drowned.[6] A later review of the case by a medical examiner for the defense determined that the boys had been killed between 1:00 am and 5:00 am on May 6, 1993.[4]

The official interpretation of the crime scene forensics for the case remains controversial. Prosecution experts claim Byers' wounds were the results of a knife attack and that he had been purposely castrated by the murderer; defense experts claim the injuries may have been the result of animal predation. Police suspected the boys had been raped or sodomized; later expert testimony disputed this finding[4][7] despite trace amounts of sperm DNA found on a pair of pants recovered from the scene.[8] Police believed the boys were assaulted and killed at the location they were found; critics argued that the assault, at least, was unlikely to have occurred at the creek.[4]

Byers was the only victim with drugs in his system; he was prescribed Ritalin[3] in January 1993, as part of an attention-deficit disorder treatment. (The initial autopsy report describes the drug as Carbamazepine.[5]) The dosage was found to be at sub-therapeutic level,[5] which is consistent with John Mark Byers' statement that Christopher Byers may not have taken his prescription on May 5, 1993.[citation needed]

"Mr. Bojangles"

The sighting of a possible black male suspect was implied during the beginning of the trial, at which time the possibility of conviction of the initial suspects seemed slim. According to local West Memphis police officers, on the evening of May 5, 1993, at 8:42 pm, workers in the Bojangles' restaurant about a mile from the crime scene (a direct route through the bayou where the children were found) in Robin Hood Hills reported seeing an African American male "dazed and covered with blood and mud" inside the ladies' room of the restaurant. Defense attorneys later referred to this man as "Mr. Bojangles."[4]

The man was bleeding from his arm and had brushed against the walls. The man had defecated on himself and on the floor. The police were called, but the man left the scene. Officer Regina Meeks responded (by inquiring at the drive through window) about 45 minutes later. By then, the man had left and police did not enter the bathroom on that date. The following day, when the victims were found, Bojangles' manager Marty King, thinking there was a possible connection between the bloody, disoriented man and the killings, called police twice to inform them of his suspicions. After the second telephone call police gathered evidence from the restroom.[9] Police wore the same shoes and clothes from the Robin Hood Hills crime scene into the Bojangles restaurant bathroom. Police detective Bryn Ridge later stated he lost the blood scrapings taken from the walls and tiles of the bathroom.[10] A hair identified as belonging to an African American was later recovered from a sheet which had been used to wrap one of the victims.[3]


There has been widespread criticism of how the police handled the crime scene.[3] Misskelley's former attorney Dan Stidham cites multiple substantial police errors at the crime scene, characterizing it as "literally trampled, especially the creek bed."[4] The bodies, he said, had been removed from the water before the coroner arrived to examine the scene and determine the state of rigor mortis, allowing the bodies to decay on the creek bank, and to be exposed to sunlight and insects. The police did not telephone the coroner until almost two hours after the discovery of the floating shoe, resulting in a late appearance by the coroner. Officials failed to drain the creek in a timely manner and secure possible evidence in the water (the creek was sandbagged after the bodies were pulled from the water). Stidham calls the coroner's investigation "extremely substandard."[4] There was a small amount of blood found at the scene that was never tested. After the initial investigation, the police failed to control disclosure of information and speculation about the crime scene.[citation needed]

According to Mara Leveritt, investigative journalist and author of Devil's Knot, "Police records were a mess. To call them disorderly would be putting it mildly."[3] Leveritt speculated that the small local police force was overwhelmed by the crime, which was unlike any they had ever investigated. Police refused an unsolicited offer of aid and consultation from the violent crimes experts of the Arkansas State Police, and critics suggested this was due to the WMPD being investigated by the Arkansas State Police for suspected theft from the Crittenden County drug task force.[3] Leveritt further noted that some of the physical evidence was stored in paper sacks obtained from a supermarket (with the supermarket's name pre-printed on the bags) rather than in containers of known and controlled origin.

Leveritt also mistakenly presumed that the crime scene video was shot minutes after Detectives Mike Allen and Bryn Ridge recovered two of the bodies, when in fact the camera was not available for almost thirty minutes afterwards.[11]

When police speculated about the assailant, the juvenile probation officer assisting at the scene of the murders speculated that Echols was "capable" of committing the murders, stating "it looks like Damien Echols finally killed someone."[3]

One expert, in the film Paradise Lost 2, stated that human bite marks could have been left on at least one of the victims. However, these potential bite marks were first noticed in photographs years after the trials and were not inspected by a board-certified medical examiner until four years after the murders. The defense's own expert testified that the mark in question was not an adult bite mark, which is consistent with the testimony of the list of experts put on by the State who had concluded that there was no bite mark.[citation needed] The State's experts had examined the actual bodies for any marks and others conducted expert photo analysis of injuries. Upon further examination, it was concluded that if the marks were bite marks, they did not match the teeth of any of the three convicted.[12]

Police interviewed Echols two days after the bodies were discovered. During a polygraph examination, he denied any involvement, but the polygraph examiner claimed that Echols' chart indicated deception.[3] When asked to produce the record of the examination, he indicated that he had no written record.[3] Officer Durham, who administered the polygraph, also did not keep any record of the test.[3] Recently, the report was found and is featured on the West Memphis Three Official Website, under the Evidence Archive.[13]

On May 10, 1993, four days after the bodies were found, Detective Bryn Ridge questioned Echols, asking Echols to speculate as to how the three victims died. Ridge's description of Echols' answer is abstracted as follows:

He stated that the boys probably died of mutilation, some guy had cut the bodies up, heard that they were in the water, they may have drowned. He said at least one was cut up more than the others. Purpose of the killing may have been to scare someone. He believed that it was only one person for fear of squealing by another involved.[citation needed]

At trial, Echols testified that Ridge's description of the conversation (which was not recorded) was inaccurate. At the time that Echols had allegedly made these statements, police thought that there was no public knowledge that one of the children had been mutilated more severely than the others. This contradicted John Mark Byers' (the stepfather of victim Christopher Byers) statement to reporters only minutes after the three bodies were found, "that two boys had been badly beaten and that the third had been even worse." At that time, Det. Gitchell had not released that information.[11] Gitchell later said he had told John Mark Byers some details of the scene first, before the official release to the media. Leveritt also demonstrates[3] that the police leaked some information, and that partly accurate gossip about the case was widely discussed among the public.

Throughout the course of the trial and afterward, many teenagers came forward with statements regarding being questioned and polygraphed by the local police. They said that Durham, among others, was at times aggressive and verbally abusive if they did not say what was expected of them. After the test, when asked what he was afraid of, Echols replied, "The electric chair."[14]

After a month had passed, with little progress in the case, police continued to focus their investigation upon Echols, interrogating him more frequently than any other person; however, they claimed he was not regarded as a direct suspect but a source of information.[3]

On June 3, police interrogated Jessie Misskelley Jr. Misskelley, whose IQ was reported to be 72 (making him borderline mentally retarded), was questioned alone; his parents were not present during the interrogation.[3] Misskelley's father gave permission for Misskelley to go with police, but did not explicitly give permission for his minor son to be questioned or interrogated.[3] Misskelley was questioned for roughly twelve hours; only two segments, totaling 46 minutes, were recorded.[15] Misskelley quickly recanted his confession, citing intimidation, coercion, fatigue, and veiled threats from police.[3] During Misskelley's trial, Dr. Richard Ofshe, an expert on false confessions and police coercion and Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley, testified that the brief recording of Misskelley's interrogation was a "classic example" of police coercion.[11] He has further described Misskelley's statement as "the stupidest fucking confession I've ever seen."[16] Critics have also stated that Misskelley's "confession" was in many respects inconsistent with the particulars of the crime scene and murder victims, including (for example) an "admission" that Misskelley "watched Damien rape one of the boys." Police had initially suspected that the boys were raped due to their dilated anuses, but forensic evidence later proved conclusively that the murdered boys had not been raped at all, and their dilated anuses were a normal post-mortem condition.[3][17][18]

Subsequent to his conviction, a police officer also alleged that Misskelley had also confessed to her. However, once again, no reliable details of the crime were provided.[3]

Misskelley was a minor when he was questioned, and though informed of his Miranda rights, he later claimed he did not fully understand them.[3] The Arkansas Supreme Court determined that Misskelley's confession was voluntary and that he did, in fact, understand the Miranda warning and its consequences.[19] Misskelley specifically said he was "scared of the police" during his first confession.[20] Portions of Misskelley's statements to the police were leaked to the press and reported on the front page of the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper before any of the trials began.[3]

Shortly after Misskelley's original confession, police arrested Echols and his close friend Baldwin. It must also be noted that eight months after his original confession, on February 17, 1994, Misskelley made another statement to police with his lawyer Dan Stidham in the room continually advising Misskelley not to say anything. Misskelley ignored this advice continually and went on to detail how Damien and Jason abused and murdered the boys, while he watched until he decided to leave. Misskelley's attorney, Dan Stidham, who was later elected to a municipal judgeship, has written a detailed critique of what he asserts are major police errors and misconceptions during their investigation.[21]

Vicki Hutcheson

Vicki Hutcheson, a new resident of West Memphis, would play an important role in the investigation, though she would later recant her testimony, stating her statements were fabricated, due in part to coercion from police.[3][22]

May 6, 1993 (the day the murder victims were found), Hutcheson was given a polygraph exam by Detective Don Bray at the Marion Police Department to determine if she had stolen money from her West Memphis employer. Hutcheson's young son, Aaron, was also present, and proved such a distraction that Bray was unable to administer the polygraph. Aaron, a playmate of the murdered boys, mentioned to Bray that the boys had been killed at "the playhouse."[4] When the bodies proved to have been discovered near where Aaron indicated, Bray asked Aaron for further details, and Aaron claimed that he had witnessed the murders committed by Satanists who spoke Spanish.[4] Aaron's further statements were wildly inconsistent, and he was unable to identify Baldwin, Echols or Misskelley from photo line-ups, and there was no "playhouse" at the location Aaron indicated.

A police officer leaked portions of Aaron's statements to the press, potentially contributing to the growing belief that the murders were part of a Satanic rite.[4]

On or about June 1, 1993, Hutcheson agreed to police suggestions to place hidden microphones in her home during an encounter with Echols. Misskelley agreed to introduce Hutcheson to Echols. During their conversation, Hutcheson reported that Echols made no incriminating statements. Police said the recording was "inaudible", but Hutcheson claimed the recording was audible.[4]

On June 2, 1993, Hutcheson told police that about two weeks after the murders were committed, she, Echols and Misskelley attended an Esbat in Turrell, Arkansas.[4] Hutcheson claimed that, at the Esbat, a drunken Echols openly bragged about killing the three boys. Misskelley was first questioned on June 3, 1993, a day after Hutcheson's Esbat confession. Hutcheson was unable to recall the Esbat location, and did not name any other participants of the purported Esbat.

Hutcheson was never charged with theft.[23] She claims that she implicated Echols and Misskelley to avoid facing criminal charges, and to gain a reward for the discovery of the murderers.

Suspects' background

At the time of their arrests, Misskelley was 17 years old, Baldwin was 16, and Echols was 18.

Baldwin and Misskelley had previous records for minor juvenile offenses (for vandalism and shoplifting, respectively) and Misskelley had a reputation for being hot tempered and engaging in frequent fistfights. Misskelley and Echols had dropped out of high school, but Baldwin earned above-average grades and demonstrated a talent for drawing and sketching, and due to encouragement from a school counselor, was considering studying graphic design in college.[3] Echols and Baldwin were close friends, due in part to their similar tastes in music and fiction, and due to a shared distaste for the prevailing cultural climate of West Memphis, which was politically conservative and strongly Evangelical Christian.[3] Baldwin and Echols were acquainted with Misskelley from school, but were not close friends with him.[3]

Echols' family was very poor, with frequent visits from social workers, and he rarely attended school. His tumultuous relationship with an early girlfriend culminated when the two ran off together. After breaking into a trailer during a rain storm, the pair were arrested, though only Echols was charged with burglary.[3]

Police heard rumors that the young lovers had planned to have a child and sacrifice the infant; based on this story, they had Echols institutionalized for psychiatric evaluation. He was diagnosed as depressed and suicidal, and was prescribed the antidepressant imipramine. Subsequent testing demonstrated poor math skills, but also showed that Echols ranked above average in reading and verbal skills.

Echols spent several months in a mental institution in Arkansas, and afterwards received "full disability" status from the Social Security Administration.[3] During Echols' trial, Dr. George W. Woods testified (for the defense) that Echols suffered from:

"... serious mental illness characterized by grandiose and persecutory delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, disordered thought processes, substantial lack of insight, and chronic, incapacitating mood swings."[3]

At the time of his arrest, Echols was working part-time with a roofing company and expecting a child with his new girlfriend, Domini Teer.[3]


Echols and Baldwin were tried together; Misskelley was tried separately. Misskelley was convicted of the slaying of the three boys in 1994.[24]


Today, although some West Memphis police personnel continue to insist the West Memphis Three are guilty[citation needed], many critics continue to call for further investigation into the verdict. The biological father of Christopher Byers, Rick Murray, described his doubts in 2000 on the West Memphis Three website.[25]

In August 2007, Pamela Hobbs, the mother of victim Steven Branch, and John Mark Byers, adoptive father of Christopher Byers, joined those who have publicly questioned the verdicts, calling for a reopening of the verdicts and further investigation of the evidence.

Legal status

The convictions were upheld on direct appeal.[19][26] Echols case recently petitioned for a retrial based on a statute permitting post-conviction testing of DNA evidence due to technological advances made since 1994 might provide exoneration for the wrongfully convicted. However, the original trial judge, Judge David Burnett, has disallowed hearing of this information in his court.

It is expected that a reversal of Echols' conviction would result in the vacating of the Baldwin and Misskelley convictions.[citation needed]

In July 2008, it was revealed that Kent Arnold, the jury foreman on the Echols / Baldwin trial, had discussed the case with an attorney prior to the beginning of deliberations and advocated for the guilt of the West Memphis Three as a result of the inadmissible Jessie Misskelley statements. Legal experts have agreed that this issue has the strong potential to result in the reversal of the convictions of Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols. If their convictions are reversed, the State is expected to retry them.[citation needed]

In October 2008, Attorney (now Judge) Daniel Stidham, who represented Jessie Misskelley in 1994 testified at a postconviction relief hearing. Stidham testified under oath that, during the trial, Judge David Burnett approached the then-deliberating jury in the Misskelley matter at approximately 11:50 a.m. and advised them they would be breaking for lunch. When the foreman answered "we may almost be done", Judge Burnett responded "well, you'll still have to return for sentencing." When the foreman asked "what if we find him not guilty?" Judge Burnett closed the door without answering. Stidham testified that his failure to request a mistrial based on this exchange was ineffective assistance of counsel and that Misskelley's conviction should therefore be vacated. Legal experts have agreed that this issue has the strong potential to result in the reversal of the conviction of Jessie Misskelley. If his conviction is reversed, the State is expected to retry him.[citation needed]

John Mark Byers' knife gift

John Mark Byers, the adoptive father of victim Christopher Byers, gave a knife to cameraman Doug Cooper,[27] who was working with documentary makers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky while they were filming the first Paradise Lost feature. The knife was a small utility-type knife, manufactured by Kershaw.[27][28] According to the statements given by Berlinger and Sinofsky, Cooper informed them of his receipt of the knife on December 19, 1993. After the documentary crew returned to New York, Berlinger and Sinofsky reported to have discovered what appeared to be blood on the knife. HBO executives ordered them to return the knife to the West Memphis Police Department.[29][30] The knife was not received at the West Memphis Police Department until January 8, 1994.[31]

Byers initially claimed the knife had never been used. Blood was found on the knife, and Byers then stated that he had used it only once, to cut deer meat.[32] When told the blood matched both his and Chris' blood type, Byers said he had no idea how that blood might have gotten on the knife. During interrogation, West Memphis police suggested to Byers that he might have left the knife out accidentally, and Byers agreed with this.[3] Byers later stated that he may have cut his thumb. Further testing on the knife produced inconclusive results, due in part to the rather small amount of blood,[3] and due to the fact that both John Mark Byers and Chris Byers had the same HLA-DQα genotype.[33]

John Mark Byers agreed to, and subsequently passed, a polygraph test during the filming of “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations” in regards to the murders, but the documentary indicated that Byers was under the influence of several psychoactive prescription medications that could have affected the test results. Byers also volunteered his false teeth when presented with the challenge he had bit the boys bodies during the filming of the show, although at the time of the murders he had his original teeth, which he later had voluntarily extracted, and later claimed there was a medical reason for the procedure.

Byers has been persecuted by WM3 supporters for his behavior.[citation needed] The WM3 website (www.wm3.org) and the second documentary both seem to allude to the assertion that Byers is the murderer. Damien Echols was the first suspect to agree to a polygraph examination during the investigation. Even advocates for the use of polygraph evidence will generally volunteer the fact that polygraph evidence is not inherently admissible as evidence in any American court of criminal law, as such tests rely heavily on the opinions of the examiner administering the test, and polygraph examiners as a rule do not openly share their test data. This is part of why most criminal lawyers will not advise their clients to submit to a state-administered polygraph test, instead generally recommending independent commercial testing services by an examiner in good standing in the county of the court's jurisdiction.

Possible teeth imprints

As documented in Paradise Lost 2, Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin submitted imprints of their teeth (after their imprisonment) that were compared to apparent bite-marks on Steve Branch's forehead, initially overlooked in the original autopsy and trial. No matches were found. According to the film, Byers had his teeth removed in 1997—after the first trial. He has never offered a consistent reason for their removal; in one instance claiming they were knocked out in a fight, in another saying the medication he was taking made them fall out, and in yet another claiming that he had long planned to have them removed so as to obtain dentures.[3] After an expert examined autopsy photos and noted what he thought might be the imprint of a belt buckle on Byers' corpse, the elder Byers revealed to the police that he had spanked his stepson shortly before the boy disappeared.[3] He also had a 1988 conviction for terroristic threats that arose from an incident involving his ex-wife, Sandra Byers.[3] Melissa Byers had contacted Christopher's school a few weeks before the murders, expressing concerns that her son was being sexually abused.[3] A fact not revealed until after the trial was that John Mark Byers had acted as a police informant on several occasions.[3] His prior conviction for the 1988 incident had been expunged in May, 1992, upon the completion of probation, despite the fact that other criminal charges against him should have caused the revocation of his probation.[3]

Vicki Hutcheson recants

In October 2003, Vicki Hutcheson, who played a part in the arrests of Miskelley, Echols and Baldwin, gave an interview to the Arkansas Times in which she stated that every word she had given to the police was a fabrication.[34] She further asserted that the police had insinuated if she did not cooperate with them they would take away her child.[34] She noted that when she visited the police station they had photographs of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley on the wall and were using them as dart targets.[34] She also claims that an audio tape the police claimed was "unintelligible" (and eventually lost) was perfectly clear and contained no incriminating statements.[34] However, Hutcheson did not testify at the Echols/Baldwin trial.

DNA testing and new physical evidence

In 2007, DNA collected from the crime scene was tested. None was found to match DNA from Echols, Baldwin, nor Misskelley.[36] In addition, a hair "consistent with" Terry Hobbs, stepfather to Stevie Branch, was found tied into the knots used to bind victim Michael Moore.[37][38] The prosecutors, while conceding that no DNA evidence ties the accused to the crime scene, has said that, "The State stands behind its convictions of Echols and his codefendants."[39]

On October 29, 2007 papers were filed in federal court by Damien Echols' defense lawyers seeking a retrial or his immediate release from prison. The filing cited DNA evidence linking Hobbs to the crime scene, and new statements from Hobbs' now ex-wife. Also presented in the filing is new expert testimony that the "knife" marks on the victims were the result of animal predation after the bodies had been dumped.[1][40]

On September 10, 2008 Circuit Court Judge David Burnett denied the request for a retrial, citing the DNA tests as inconclusive. [41]

John Mark Byers

In late 2007, John Mark Byers, adoptive father to Christopher Byers, announced that he now believes that Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin are innocent. "I believe I would be the last person on the face of the earth that people would expect or dream to see say free the West Memphis 3," said Byers. "From looking at the evidence and the facts that were presented to me, I have no doubt the West Memphis 3 are innocent." Byers is writing a book, and a film biography is being considered for production.[35] Mr. Byers has been speaking to the media on behalf of the convicted and has expressed his desire for "justice for six families."

Documentaries and studies

Two films, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, have documented this case, as have the books Blood of Innocents by Guy Reel and Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt. The documentary films and Leveritt's book were strongly critical of the verdict, and argue that the suspects were wrongly convicted.[citation needed][36] Damien Echols wrote a book "Almost Home, Vol 1"

Celebrity support

The West Memphis 3 case has garnered interest and attention from celebrities, who have spoken out in support and, in some case, recorded albums and staged fundraising events.

  • Actress Winona Ryder has supported the attempts to obtain a retrial.[37]
  • Under the direction of Henry Rollins, various musicians came together to record the 2002 album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three, a collection of cover songs originally performed by Rollins' former band Black Flag.[38] Profits from the record and the supporting tour were donated to the suspects' defense funds.[39]
  • Another benefit album was 2000's Free the West Memphis 3 featuring artists such as Steve Earle, Tom Waits, The Supersuckers, Joe Strummer, Killing Joke, Eddie Vedder and L7. This album was organized by Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers.[40]
  • In 2003, a benefit exhibition titled Cruel And Unusual was held at the Los Angeles art gallery sixspace which was hosted by Winona Ryder and included artwork by Raymond Pettibon, Shepard Fairey, Marilyn Manson and others. The exhibition also included a series of talks by lawyers involved with the case and public figures such as Jello Biafra.[41]
  • Comedian and political activist Margaret Cho has spoken out in support of the West Memphis 3 on several occasions on her blog.[42][43] and has posted correspondence with Echols.[44][45] In 2004, she posed for an American Library Association poster holding a copy of Echols' book Almost Home: My Life Story Vol. 1.[46]
  • On May 12, 2006, Skeleton Key, an art auction with artists including Damien Echols, Cinquain, Norman Reedus, Jay Mueller, Mick Rock, Bob Gruen, Erik Rose and Lorri Davis, premiered "An Art Auction Benefiting the West Memphis Three" which presented Echols' art along with all the above named artists at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco.[citation needed]
  • The Undead members Bobby Steele and Joel Gausten have publicly supported the West Memphis Three and have performed benefit concerts on their behalf.[citation needed]
  • Skateboard company Zero Skateboards released three skateboard decks in support of the West Memphis 3 with a percentage of the profits going toward their defense fund.[47]
  • In November 2007, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines Pasdar started speaking out in support of the West Memphis Three by appearing at rallies and providing information on the band's websites.[48] In January 2009, Terry Hobbs brought suit against the band, claiming libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other accusations.[49] However, on December 2, 2009, US District Judge Brian Miller dismissed the claim, ruling that Hobbs could not establish Maines acted out of malice.
  • Former Misfits singer Michale Graves is a supporter of the West Memphis Three, and had Damien Echols contribute the lyrics to several songs on his 2007 album Illusions with Damien Echols.[50]
  • At the MTV Movie Awards in 2000, upon winning the award for Best Musical Performance for the song "Uncle Fucka", South Park creator Trey Parker, shouted at the end of his acceptance speech "Free the West Memphis 3!"[51]
  • Christian metalcore band Zao wrote a song entitled "Free the Three" on their album "Parade of Chaos."
  • John Gray, Skeleton Key, and Texas Fear Fest ran a silent auction the weekend of March 7–9, 2008 to support the WM3 legal defense fund.[citation needed]
  • Echols co-wrote a song on Pearl Jam's Pearl Jam album with Eddie Vedder called "Army Reserve".[52]
  • The band Alkaline Trio recorded the song "Prevent This Tragedy", which appears on the album Crimson, in tribute to the West Memphis Three. [53]
  • The members of Alkaline Trio are auctioning off a guitar used in the recording of their newest album, This Addiction and on the supporting tour, with all proceeds going to help the West Memphis Three. [54]
  • On January 13, 2010, Demi Lovato posted two messages on her twitter account in support of the West Memphis Three. The first said "Can everyone just take a second to read this please. www.wm3.org a truly worth while cause. Show your support!!!", while the second, posted two minutes later, said "FREE THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE!!! :(".
  • On February 23, 2010, it was announced that Johnny Depp would be appearing on the news program, 48 Hours, to defend the West Memphis Three.
  • Singer Mandy Moore expressed support for the West Memphis 3, using a twitter post from her verified account on 2010-02-28.[55]


  1. ^ "Second Amended Writ of Habeas Corpus". David P Davis Esq, Attorney at Law. http://www.dpdlaw.com/2ndAmendedHabaes.htm. Retrieved October 31, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Sauls, Burk. "Case Synopsis". Free the West Memphis Three. http://www.wm3.org/live/caseintroduction/synopsis_burk.php. Retrieved July 23, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj Leveritt, Mara (2003). Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. Atria. ISBN 0743417607. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Stidham, Dan. "Case Synopsis". Free the West Memphis Three. http://www.wm3.org/live/caseintroduction/synopsis_dan.php. Retrieved July 20, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c "Christopher Byers Autopsy". West Memphis Three Case - Document Archive. http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/autcb.html. Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  6. ^ Leveritt, Mara (July 19, 2007). "New evidence in West Memphis murders: Victim's mother believes defendants innocent". Arkansas Times. http://www.arktimes.com/Articles/ArticleViewer.aspx?ArticleID=f1b058c2-82ac-455c-b193-83cfce18215d. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  7. ^ "Testimony of Dr. Frank Peretti". West Memphis Three Case - Document Archive. http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/frankp.html. Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Testimony of Michael DeGuglielmo". West Memphis Three Case - Document Archive. http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/michaeld.html. Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  9. ^ Testimony, Echols/Baldwin Trial, Regina Meek
  10. ^ Testimony, Echols/Baldwin Trial, Bryn Ridge
  11. ^ a b c Steel, Fiona. "The West Memphis Three". Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.. http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/famous/memphis/index_1.html. 
  12. ^ "Revelations: Paradise Lost 2. HBO. 28 July 2000 Broadcast. 17 Mar 2006". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0239894/. Retrieved 2007-02-19. 
  13. ^ " "polygraph reports - General Case Discussion". http://westmemphisthreediscussion.yuku.com/topic/6980?page=4". 
  14. ^ Damien Echols Polygraph
  15. ^ BBC - collective - paradise lost, revelations dvd
  16. ^ http://www.wm3.org/display/quotes.php?id=42
  17. ^ Jessie Misskelley's February 4, 1994, patrol car statement
  18. ^ Jessie Misskelley's February 17, 1994 Statement
  19. ^ a b cr94-848
  20. ^ Transcript, MissKelley, Jr. Confession
  21. ^ WM3.org - Case Synopsis by Dan Stidham
  22. ^ Steel, Fiona. "The West Memphis 3." Court TV. 17 Mar. 2006
  23. ^ Misskelley Trial - Testimony of Victoria Hutcheson - January 28, 1994
  24. ^ "Youth Is Convicted In Slaying of 3 Boys In an Arkansas City". New York Times. 1994-02-05. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980CE5DA1E39F936A35751C0A962958260&scp=11&sq=west+memphis+3+murder+case&st=nyt. "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." 
  25. ^ WM3.org - Case Information
  26. ^ Echols v. State (Dudley, J.) CR94-928
  27. ^ a b http://callahan.8k.com/images/cooper_statement.jpg
  28. ^ http://callahan.8k.com/images/jmb/jmb_knife2.jpg
  29. ^ http://callahan.8k.com/images/berlinger_statement.jpg
  30. ^ http://callahan.8k.com/images/sinofsky_statement.jpg
  31. ^ Testimony of Gary Gitchell - Echols/Baldwin Trial
  32. ^ John Mark Byers Statement - January 26, 1994
  33. ^ Genetic Design - January 27, 1994 Report
  34. ^ a b c d Hackler, Tim (October 7, 2004). "Complete Fabrication". Arkansas Times. http://www.arktimes.com/Articles/ArticleViewer.aspx?ArticleID=52a9822c-d0bf-464a-bef2-c5b8013254ec. Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  35. ^ Victim's father wants West Memphis 3 set free
  36. ^ *Discussion and Information Forum
  37. ^ http://www.wm3.org/display/quotes.php?id=8
  38. ^ Dansby, Andrew (October 10, 2002). "Black Flag Rise Again: Rollins roars for West Memphis 3". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/henryrollins/articles/story/5934470/black_flag_rise_again. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  39. ^ Wilshire Gazette, January 2003, http://www.citizinemag.com/music/music-0301_blackflag.htm
  40. ^ The Evil Powers of Rock and Roll: The Supersuckers' Eddie Spaghetti Works to Free the West Memphis Three
  41. ^ Cruel And Unusual: A Benefit for the West Memphis Three :: sixspace
  42. ^ "West Memphis Three". 3/2/2004. Archived from the original on 2007-06-12. http://web.archive.org/web/20070612193915/http://margaretcho.com/blog/westmemphisthree.htm. 
  43. ^ "Where There is no Freedom". 2004-07-26. Archived from the original on 2007-04-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20070416163021/http://margaretcho.com/blog/wherethereisnofreedom.htm. 
  44. ^ "Damien Echols II". 5/03/2004. Archived from the original on 2007-04-20. http://web.archive.org/web/20070420150721/http://margaretcho.com/blog/damienecholsii.htm. 
  45. ^ "Poem 92 by Damien Echols". 8/11/2004. Archived from the original on 2007-04-17. http://web.archive.org/web/20070417235300/http://margaretcho.com/blog/poem92.htm. 
  46. ^ "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=137. 
  47. ^ "Zero Skateboards Philanthtopy". http://www.zeroskateboards.com/philanthropy/index.php/. 
  48. ^ "Letter from Natalie Maines: WM3 Call to Action". http://www.dixiechicks.com/06_pressDetail.asp?newsID=669. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  49. ^ "Hobbs v. Pasdar et al" (PDF). West Memphis Three Case - Document Archive. http://callahan.8k.com/hobbs_v_pasdar_docket.html. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  50. ^ Michale Graves's website
  51. ^ "The Fight to free the West Memphis 3". http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2000/08/10/echols/index1.html. 
  52. ^ http://www.pearljam.com/song/army-reserve
  53. ^ http://www.wessexscene.co.uk/the-edge/1367
  54. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35783138/ns/local_news-little_rock_ar/
  55. ^ "free the west memphis 3!!". http://twitter.com/TheMandyMoore/status/9755928599. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 

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