High Court Denies Latest Appeal by Convicted West Memphis Child Killer

JANUARY 20, 2005 - Posted at 3:47 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied an appeal from convicted child killer Damien Echols.  The high court also used strong words to urge a circuit court to resolve Echols' two-year-old request for DNA testing.

The three victims in the May 1993 slayings, eight-year-olds Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, disappeared 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 Jesse Misskelley, all teenagers at the time, were convicted in the murders.  Echols was the only one sentenced to death.

Echols appealed to the Supreme Court for the second time in October to retry his 1994 conviction in the death penalty case on the same two grounds.

He alleged the jury at his trial convicted him based in part on a statement by Misskelley, one of two people charged with him, that was not admitted into evidence.  He also claimed certain members of the jury were biased against him.  The court turned away Echols' claims.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)