West Memphis Three Get New Hearing
Today, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a judge to consider whether newly analyzed DNA evidence might exonerate three men convicted in 1993 of murdering three boys, the Associated Press reported.
Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley – known as the West Memphis Three –were convicted in 1994 of killing three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Echols was sentenced to death, Baldwin received life without parole and Misskelley was sentenced to 40 years.
“While there is a significant dispute in this case, as to the legal effects of the DNA test results, it is undisputed that the results conclusively excluded Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley as the source of the DNA evidence tested,” the court wrote Thursday.
At a hearing last month, Echols’ lawyers said the circuit judge should have considered DNA test results in deciding whether to grant him a new trial. Two years ago, Echols’ request for a new trial was denied. The justices also recommended new hearings for Misskelley and Baldwin and said a lower court must examine claims of misconduct by the jurors who may have considered Misskelley’s confession despite it not being introduced at Echols’ trial.
Since the circuit judge was elected this week to the state Senate, the new hearings will be heard by a different judge.
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