Judge denies argument in West Memphis 3 evidence case

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 5:28 PM CST|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:42 AM CDT
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MARION, Ark. (KAIT) - A Crittenden County judge denied Damien Echols’ argument to order a prosecutor to hand over DNA evidence to a lab for testing in the West Memphis 3 case.

Judge Tonya M. Alexander handed down her ruling on Thursday, June 23, in the Crittenden County District Court.

Echols’ attorneys said they plan to appeal the decision.

Echols had asked earlier this year in a petition to retest the evidence in the case, using the M-Vac method for testing. The system uses a wet vacuum method to test evidence.

However, Prosecuting Attorney Keith Chrestman said on Feb. 8 in a court filing, denying the request, that he believes there is little evidence to show that M-Vac is a scientifically sound method to test evidence.

“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.”

Chrestman also said he believes 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.

The prosecutor said he also believes the testing would create due process concerns involving the other two defendants - Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley.

Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were convicted in 1993 in the deaths of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis.

The trio later accepted an Alford Plea in 2011, which allowed them to plead guilty but maintain their innocence in the case.

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