Father of victim says he will fight release of West Memphis 3

Published: Sep. 6, 2011 at 12:25 PM CDT
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(WMC-TV) - Steve Branch, the father of one of the three 8-year-old boys killed 18 years ago, said he will do everything in his power to overturn the law that allowed the West Memphis Three walk free.

Nearly three weeks ago, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, known as the West Memphis Three, were granted freedom with a rare Alford plea.

"I've just lost a lot of sleep," said Branch.

Branch said the release of the West Memphis Three is an abomination of the justice system.

"I couldn't believe that the justice system, the D.A. and the prosecutor would let this happen," he said.

After 18 years in prison, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley walked free, despite the fact that a jury found them guilty of the murders of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Branch's son Stevie Branch.

"All of a sudden, they called us the day before this happened," said Branch.  "We didn't even have a chance to try to stop it."

Branch said the rare legal maneuver that set the men free is a danger to society.  An Alford plea means a defendant admits guilt, but asserts innocent.

On the day of the West Memphis Three's release, Branch said he could not hold back and spoke out in court.

"I stop up in court and I tried to explain to the judge that if he followed through with this, that he was going to be opening Pandora's Box," he said.  "He's going to be giving the key to every inmate that's on death row to those cell block doors to walk out, and all they have to do is admit that they killed somebody and they could be set free."

Branch said he fears this ruling will impact other cases.

"That's every state in the country," said Branch.  "How many baby killers, rapists, serial killers are going to be set free because of this law?  Because of what they've done.  They're all going to come out here with us."

Branch criticized the celebrities who supported the defendants.

"Johnny Depp?  A person who starred in the Ninth Gate in which he had to find clues in three books to raise Satan.  Who? Wynona Ryder, who played in Bram Stoker's Dracula who fell in love with Dracula - who is the spawn of Satan.  Marilyn Manson?  Is he a poster boy for good will?" he asked.

Branch said they never spent a day in court, knew nothing about the case and garnered attention for the wrong three boys.

"The West Memphis Three were the three little boys," said Branch.  "My son, little Stevie, and his two little buddies, Michael and Christopher."

Branch said he will not give up.

"Especially to Echols and Baldwin and Misskelley, I've got three words: 'It's not over,'" he said.

Branch would not go into detail about how he hopes to overturn the Alford plea.  He said he is still haunted by the image of his son bound, mutilated and murdered.

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