Another Forensic Salvo for the West Memphis Three

Published: Aug. 11, 2009 at 10:52 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2009 at 10:53 PM CDT
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By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback


It was another day for the defense team for Jesse Misskelly and Jason Baldwin to attempt to shoot holes in the 1993 autopsy findings.

Misskelley and  Baldwin sat quietly in the courtroom of the Craighead County Courthouse Annex as their team brought in noted Forensic Pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, Chief Medical Examiner for the New York State Police.

Baden was there to look at photographic and documented evidence  and give his opinions on the autopsies of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore, the 3 young boys murdered in West Memphis in 1993.

Dr. Baden said the autopsy findings were trying to fit into a sexual assault satanic cult prosecution mold.

Baden, "I think unfortunately that quick assumption of a Satanic cult colored the autopsy interpretations and police investigation wrongly."

From the stand Dr. Baden stated that  most injuries he saw in the pictures of the victims could be attributed to animals, either turtles or perhaps dogs or cats when the bodies surfaced from the ditch they were drowned in.

According to defense attorneys animal hair was removed from the bodies but not listed as part of the autopsy.

I asked Dr. Baden if it was normal practice or unusual to have a defense forensic pathologist present at autopsies in high profile cases like this one. He said it is usually a wise move.

Baden, "To make sure mistakes aren't made, and mistakes are made from time to time."

Did Baden think mistakes were made in the original autopsies?

Baden, "I think it was interpreted wrong."

As part of the Rule 37 hearing, the current team of defense lawyers have to show to Judge David Burnett that Misskelly and Baldwin did not receive an adequate defense. Burnetts agreement with them could give the two a new trial.

In 2007 Dr. Baden and others met with Dr. Frank Peretti the medical examiner who made the initial autopsy report. Baden said Peretti wanted to hear there opinions and that's all just hear them.

"There was not really a discussion. The defense gave their theories to the prosecution and that's where it ended."

The hearing is scheduled to run through next week.

©2009 KAIT
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