New access to evidence thought destroyed in 1993 ‘West Memphis Three′ case
WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - Not a single piece of evidence ever connected the West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, to the 1993 murders of Steve Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore.
Echols’ attorneys finally got access Tuesday to the evidence they believe can exonerate all three men.
Echols’ legal team says it took a court order from the state to see the evidence at the West Memphis Police Department. They say the evidence is in good shape and well documented.
”Well, we’re shocked that it’s taken 18 months,” said Lonnie Soury, spokesperson for Echols’ legal team.
Soury says they’ve spent the pandemic fighting for justice for Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley.
”We were told the evidence had been destroyed in a fire,” Soury said. “And then lo and behold, we get to the West Memphis Police Department today and all the evidence is cataloged, is there intact. Nothing was destroyed.”
“It can now be tested, to see who left DNA at the crime scene. My attorney was in the evidence room and saw it with his own eyes. Every piece is still there.”
”He found what we were looking for, the ligatures that bound the children. The sneaker ligatures in which Terry Hobbs’ DNA was found in,” Soury said.
Hobbs was Branch’s stepfather. Earlier this year, he told Action News 5 he welcomes new DNA testing.
The bodies of Branch, Byers, and Moore were found in a drainage ditch in West Memphis May 6, 1993.
In 1994, Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley, teenagers at the time, were convicted of killing the eight-year-old boys in what was believed to be a satanic ritual.
They had always maintained their innocence. Even when taking an Alford Plea, admitting guilt to get out of prison in 2011.
West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon says neither he nor Police Chief Michael Pope were the reason for the delay in getting access to the evidence.
”I have no vested interest in trying to withhold any evidence from anyone on either side. We want to make sure that they get to the bottom of what they’re trying to figure out,” said McClendon.
The next step is getting the evidence tested using a new DNA technology called M-VAC.
”And now, we’re hoping that this development will lead to the real killers and the exoneration of the West Memphis Three,” Soury said.
Echols’ team wants the evidence tested by a private forensic DNA lab in California.
“Asa Hutchinson, step up and order this case be closed,” Soury said.
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