High Court To Hear New Echols Arguments in West Memphis Child Murders

October 2, 2003 - Posted at: 7:49 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arguments are set for this morning before the Arkansas Supreme Court in the case of one of three defendants convicted of killing three boys in West Memphis ten years ago.

Condemned killer Damien Echols is to argue his lawyers did a poor job of defending him.  Echols was sentenced to die for the May 1992 bludgeoning deaths of three eight-year-old boys.

Lawyers for the 28-year-old Echols are to argue that Echols had ineffective counsel from local public defenders who should have sought to have his trial moved due to pre-trial news coverage.  His lawyers also say the previous legal team should have demanded more extensive DNA testing.

Echols is seeking a new trial, and his lawyers say they want to save him from execution.

Second graders Steven Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers disappeared May 5, 1993, while riding bicycles in their quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in West Memphis.  Their bodies were found the next day in a watery ditch near their homes.

Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Miskelley, all teenagers at the time, were convicted in the murders.  Echols was the only one sentenced to death.  Baldwin is serving life without parole and Miskelley was sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.