Inside of a courtroom
The West Memphis Three have been granted a new hearing that could result in a new trial 18 years after their incarceration. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A new discovery involving DNA evidence has resulted in the West Memphis Three getting a hearing that may result in a new trial. The three men were convicted in 1994 of the murders of three young boys.

Retrial could be possible 18 years after convictions

In 1993, three men were convicted of the slayings of three 8-year-old Cub Scouts in the city of West Memphis, Ark. None of the three, who were dubbed the “West Memphis Three” in the press, were more than 18 years of age at the time, and all of them have been in custody since their convictions. However, according to CBS, they have been granted a hearing on Friday, Aug. 19, that may result in new trials for all of them because of new DNA evidence being uncovered. No DNA evidence has linked Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley or Jason Baldwin to the murders of Christopher Byers, Stevie Branch and Michael Moore. Echols, according to Reuters, was sentenced to death while the other two were sentenced to life in prison. They have been in prison for 18 years.

Three different males left DNA at crime scene

The DNA of three unidentified males was discovered at the scene of the crime. The judge presiding over the hearing has barred cameras from the proceedings, but a press conference is scheduled for after the hearing. The wallet of one of the victims was found to contain a human hair that belonged to neither victims nor the men convicted of the crime. The Arkansas Supreme Court also has a new evidentiary hearing pending in December that will allow evidence that wasn’t part of the original trial. The place where the three boys were murdered, Robin Hood Hills, is a remote site, according to The Commercial Appeal, a newspaper in Memphis, Tenn. Any DNA evidence left at the site would not have been there by happenstance. DNA evidence at the crime scene was found in a 2007 analysis to be consistent with that of Terry Hobbs, stepfather of victim Stevie Branch, and David Jacoby, a friend of Hobbs.

Two could go free at hearing

According to WREG3TV, a CBS affiliate in West Memphis, two of the West Memphis Three might be released on Friday, with their sentences reduced to time served, one of which could be Echols. The West Memphis Three case was based upon the idea that the murder of the three boys was part of a “Satanic ritual” because they were found bound and mutilated. However, there wasn’t any DNA evidence linking them to the crime. The conviction hinged upon Misskelley confessing to the crime, which is alleged to have only been secured due to coercion by police. Misskelly is said to be “borderline mentally retarded” and is said to have been pressured into telling police what they wanted to hear.




The Commercial Appeal:


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