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Frequently Asked Questions

Does DNA evidence exonerate the three men?

There was no DNA testing done during the trial 15 years ago. As this technology has become more available and accurate, a great deal of evidence from the crime scene has been tested. All tests failed to link Damien, Jessie or Jason to the crime scene in any way. DNA testing did, however, place other individuals' DNA at the crime scene. This new evidence proves that Damien, Jessie and Jason are not guilty. The lack of their DNA alone proves the WM3 are innocent.

Was Jessie Misskelley's "confession" coerced?

Jessie Misskelley's "confession" is a textbook example of a coerced, false confession. Even though he recanted his "confession" within hours, it was a major factor in all three convictions. Jessie is mentally challenged with a low IQ of only 72. Knowing he was mentally disabled, the West Memphis police still interrogated Jessie for 12 hours without his parents or an attorney present. Only 46 minutes, a mere 6%, of this entire hostile interrogation was recorded or videotaped.

 Jessie did not know key details of the crime, including the time of the murders, the materials with which the boys were bound, as well as the cause of death. Since he did not know real details, he was fed information by the investigators, which is clear on the tape.

Was satanic ritual involved? 

Satanic ritual, the only purported motive in this case, is utterly baseless. Scientific evidence proves that knives were not involved in this crime, effectively debunking a large part of the prosecution's theory about how and why the crimes were committed. Some of the nation's leading forensic experts, including a former chief of the Investigative Support Unit of the FBI for twenty-five years, agree that the wounds on the victims were caused by animal bites — not by knives, as the prosecution claimed. This discredits the prosecution's theory that the motives were part of a Satanic ritual, and exposes it as a baseless, fictitious claim. Further highlighting the mishandling of the evidence in this case, the knives presented as evidence were never owned by Jason, Damien or Jessie and were never linked to them as part of any witness's sworn testimony.

What were the WM3 convicted of doing?

Three eight-year-old boys were found murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. Shortly thereafter, local newspapers stated the killers had been caught. The police assured the public that the three teenagers in custody were responsible for these horrible crimes. Yet there was and is not a single piece of evidence linking any of these teenagers (now men) to the crimes.

Why are we confident these men are innocent?

Damien, Jason and Jessie all have strong alibis. There is not a single piece of evidence indicating they were involved - not one. In fact, recently tested DNA evidence and physical evidence has shown that others were with the boys at the time of their murder. Although there was no physical evidence, murder weapon, motive, nor connection to the victims, the West Memphis 3 have been imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Echols waits in solitary confinement for a lethal injection. They were all condemned by their poverty, incompetent defense, Satanic panic, a rush to judgment, and a false confession.

Why were Jason and Damien arrested in the first place?

To respond to pressure from the community for a prompt arrest, a large reward was offered for information about the crime. Being young and poor, Damien and Jason were easy targets. A mentally challenged young man, Jessie Misskelley, gave a false confession. His interrogators enticed Jessie with the prospect of reward money and the promise that he would be sent home a free man just as soon as he told them what they wanted to hear.

How could a jury of our peers convict three men of murder without any evidence?

Due to prosecutorial misconduct, the jury was misled and misinformed. Jessie's coerced confession was legally inadmissible. Despite this fact, the confession was highly publicized in the media and the jury was not sequestered so they saw and read all the inflammatory stories being published during the trial. The jury was assured that the prosecution had irrefutable evidence proving the boys' guilt. For example, Prosecutor Fogleman gave illegal and false information to the jury in his closing, stating that he was able to duplicate the marks on Byers' body by cutting into a grapefruit with the knife in question. Fogleman was not under oath and this proven false statement concerning injuries to the victims was never even admitted into evidence.

Was there prosecutorial misconduct?

Yes. The new forensic evidence also exposes the misconduct of prosecutor John Fogleman in closing argument when he conducted an experiment, which he claimed proved that a knife recovered from a lake behind Baldwin's residence was the instrument which maimed Byers. No evidence in the record permitted the conclusion that the lake knife was used in the crime, yet Fogleman informed the jury in closing that he was able to duplicate the marks on Byers' body by cutting into a grapefruit with the knife in question. The prosecutor's unsworn testimony in this regard violated petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935) (holding that prosecutors have a "special obligation to avoid 'improper suggestions, insinuations, and especially assertions of personal knowledge'").

Was there police misconduct?

West Memphis police officers coerced an error-filled "confession" from Jessie Misskelley Jr. They subjected him to 12 hours of questioning without counsel or parental consent, audiotaping only two fragments totaling 46 minutes of the entire 12-hour interrogation. Jessie recanted it that evening, but it was too late. Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols were all arrested on June 3, 1993, and convicted of murder in early 1994. Jessie Misskelley refused to testify against Jason and Damien even when offered a deal for significant reduction in jail time.