Request for re-testing DNA from West Memphis Three murder scene denied

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 10:14 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2022 at 10:41 PM CST
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (KAIT) - A recently-filed petition to re-test evidence from the West Memphis Three murder scene has been denied.

Back in January 2022, attorneys for Damien Echols, one of those involved in the West Memphis Three case, filed a petition to the Crittenden County court to allow the recently-discovered DNA from the crime scene to be re-tested.

Echols is one of the three people accused of killing three eight-year-old boys in 1993.

In the petition, Echols’ attorneys asked for the usage of the M-Vac method, as they stated it would provide more accurate results compared to the wet-swab method.

However, in his court filing on Tuesday, Feb. 8, Crittenden County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Chrestman said there is little evidence that M-Vac is a scientifically sound method.

“A general caselaw search reveals only two cases in which courts mentioned M-Vac,” Chrestman said. “And neither case discusses whether M-Vac uses scientifically sound methods consistent with forensic practices.”

The prosecutor said that the M-Vac method would alter the DNA, thus would be in violation of the court’s requirement to permanently preserve physical evidence in violent-offense cases.

Additionally, Chrestman said M-Vac raises due process concerns, as two additional defendants were convicted in the case, but they have not joined Echols’ request.

The prosecutor added that further testing must provide relevant evidence that would advance Echol’s innocence in light of all the evidence presented to the jury.

Echols was sentenced to death as a result of his murder convictions.

Throughout the proceedings, Echols and his co-defendants, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr., maintained their innocence of the crimes.

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