Skip to comments.Emotions run high among parents of slain Arkansas boys
Posted on 08/20/2011 8:50:09 AM PDT by redreno
Jonesboro, Arkansas (CNN) -- Crazy.
That is the word John Mark Byers, whose stepson Christopher was among three second-graders killed in West Memphis, Arkansas in May 1993, repeatedly used to describe Friday's release of three men convicted in the boys' murders from a Craighead County Courthouse in Jonesboro.
It is a sentiment shared by Steven Branch Sr., whose son Steven also was slain -- but for entirely different reasons.
(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...
3 men in Arkansas are released, years after being convicted in the murders of 3 boys
Apparently the evidence used to convict them was shaky and the prosecutors accepted this to save face.
Many actors and musicians have been advocating aggressively for their release for years. Finally Arkansas has realized that the opinion of the jury is not as important as the opinion of Hollywood.
That would be one strong indication that they are all guilty, but I haven't kept up with the details of the case.
One of the boys’ stepfather’s hair was found on a shoelace but he can claim that was there because they lived together. But combine that hair and the DNA found on a nearby stump belonging to the stepfather’s friend, well, that starts to smell. Anyone know why the friend’s DNA was tested and no charges brought?
They were innocent.
What was the evidence against them?
Words are hollow, but freedom is real
Columnist | John Brummett
JONESBORO Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley and Jason Baldwin pleaded guilty here Friday to mutilating three little boys in West Memphis in 1993.
But they didnt mean it.
Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington told the worlds media that he was personally certain the three men committed this horror.
But Im pretty sure he didnt mean that, either.
For what they said, Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin walked free after 18 years in state prison.
For what he said, the prosecuting attorney avoided three likely mistrials he figured he would lose. He also spared the state millions in false imprisonment damages that the three men might have won had they secured those likely acquittals in retrials.
Was justice served? It wasnt if you think the murder of 8-year-old boys ought to be solved to achieve justice. It wasnt if you think people ought to shoot straight with you in a court of law and in person.
Politics was served, though, and quite well. What transpired was an intricate negotiation worthy of Congress and the debt ceiling debate.
This was all about a rarely used legal maneuver called an Alford Rule, by which a defendant is permitted to plead guilty in court, then to walk outside and say he is not at all guilty no matter what he just said, but innocent.
And while justice is surely imperfect, and sometimes not pretty, and sometimes not altogether achieved, free is free.
These three men are now free. The state is now free of futile trials and looming damages, not to mention free, should it choose, to look for what might be the real killer.
Echols high-priced investigators, paid for with celebrity-raised money secured through the diligence of Echols wife, Lorrie Davis, said theyd be happy to work further with local police authorities. Two of those celebrities, music giants Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines, were in the courtroom Friday.
Perhaps the police will take up Echols team on that offer, even though the district attorney is on record saying the case is closed because these three guys did the crime for sure. Ellington even said he could only hope and pray hed made the right decision in doing this deal, and, when asked what he meant, suggested he was fearful these so-called West Memphis Three might not be rehabilitated and might commit crimes again.
Why was Ellington so fearful of having to face new trials? Actually, he was pretty candid about that. He said evidence was strong of jury foreman misconduct in Echols trial.
That foreman, Kent Arnold, is a local real estate mogul whose signs are strewn all over commercial developments blocks away from the courthouse on Jonesboros Main Street.
What Arnold stands accused of by Echols lawyers is maneuvering to get the jury to vote guilty on account of a recanted confession by Misskelley that the state had not been allowed to enter as evidence.
And why did Ellington figure hed lose the retrials? He said witnesses were dead. He said the state didnt have any DNA evidence at the time, and that none of the DNA evidence produced since, gathered by Echols experts, implicates the three.
What now for Echols and his wife? Nothing about this negotiated settlement restricts Echols travel. Friends of his wife said a celebration might be imminent in Memphis, after which Echols and Davis likely will go to New York to stay at least for a while.
Thats where Davis lived as a landscape architect before she learned about Echols plight from a documentary on HBO, was moved by it, visited Echols in prison and then moved to Little Rock to marry Echols and devote herself to his freedom.
I don’t believe these guys were guilty. Recent DNA evidence points to one of the stepfathers of the kids. There was NO DNA from ANY of these three men.
Did you hear about this case? It looks like the defendants were railroaded.
The best part of this ,is that a crazy woman who married a killer in prison now has to live with that SOB.
I hope Justice is served on her.
Now that Justice could be a happy life with a man that was wrongly convicted ,or it could be one day he kills and mutilates her. It isn’t my decision, that has to come from above, I only wish for Justice.
I have seen the Alford plea used right here in Maryland, but here the guy pled it to avoid the death penalty, he still got 30 years and he was guilty . Guilty as sin, as I believe these three are.
I live in Memphis and many have been saying for years that the stepfather most likely killed those 3 boys and that three youths that were accused of the crime were just strange boys to the small town so they assumed they must had done it
Two of those celebrities, music giants Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines, were in the courtroom Friday.
I wouldn’t call these two” Music Giants”.
Unless you are into Rock and Roll, which I am not, you probablynever heard of Eddie Vedder —and Natalie Maines is the fat chick with the big mouth who put the Dixie Pigs out of business.
there is a great documentary Called Paradise lost it aired on HBO years ago I saw the video and do not beleive these kids did it, I believe one of the boys stepfathers killed the kids
A month after the murders, an undersized 17-year-old named Jesse Misskelly, with an IQ of 72, testified that he had been present when Damien Wayne Echols, 18, and Jason Baldwin, 16, killed and mutilated the boys. Local prosecutors brought murder charges against the boys. In the courtroom, they make a poignant trio: Jesse, small and blinking; Jason, who does not testify and indeed hardly speaks except in soft, shy generalities, and Damien, intelligent and articulate, known locally for dressing in black, listening to heavy metal music and reading books on Wicca, or ``white magic.’’ There is no significant physical evidence linking them to the crime, and the crime scene itself is without clues. Although one of the victims lost five pints of blood and the others bled freely, there is no blood at the murder site. The state’s case is based on Jesse’s testimony and hearsay; the defense argues that the statements made by Jesse contained only facts first supplied to him by the police, and there is a fascinating cross-examination in which a police transcript shows Jesse shifting the time of the crimes from morning to noon to after school to evening (when they actually occurred) under leading suggestions by police.
Meanwhile, we meet members of the families on both sides. Time and again, the documentary describes someone as a boyfriend, girlfriend, stepfather, stepmother, ex-wife or ex-husband; there seem to be few intact original marriages in this milieu. The parents of the murdered children are quick to believe the theories about the crime, and unforgiving. One mother says of Damien, ``He deserves to be tortured for the rest of his life.’’ She curses not only the defendants, ``but the mothers that bore them.’’ In one especially uncomfortable scene, relatives of two of the victims take target practice by shooting at pumpkins they have named after the defendants, aiming at parts of the ``bodies’’ they have not yet hit.
One of these men is John Mark Byers, stepfather of one of the victims, who earlier has been seen in a video at the crime scene, re-creating the crimes in grisly detail while vowing vengeance. In the movie’s single most astonishing development, Byers gives the filmmakers a knife. They turn it over to the state. Crime lab reports show traces of blood that apparently came from himself and his stepson. On the witness stand, he testifies that he beat his stepson with a belt at 5:30 p.m. on the day of his death. The welts from the belt buckle previously had been linked to the ritual killing.
Any truth to the post from yesterday, saying that there were bite marks on the body of the dead boys, and that for some reson the stepfather had all his teeth removed not long afterwards?
A sweeping, absolute statement. It's very unlikely that anyone can know that. I've seen DNA mentioned in recent articles, but never any specifics about what evidence exists.
Yeah....the stepfather removed his teeth and people over the years have claim that he was acting weird and doing strange things for all of these years that makes even a casual observer suspect that he probably had a hand in the killings. He probably molested his stepson and the other two boys knew it or saw it. So he killed them and it just so happen that 3 strange outcasts of the small town were perfect scapegoats for the crime
Both documentaries kept pointing to John Mark Byers as a suspect because of his well established mental problems, bizarre behavior and an extensive history of legal and illegal drug use. And giving the HBO guys a bloody knife as a “gift” in the first film.
The producers of the documentaries were right for the wrong reasons. The 3 boys are likely innocent. But the documentaries focused on the wrong stepfather.
Meet Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of victim Stevie Branch...
Terry Hobbs was born in 1958 in Northern Arkansas, one of four children, son of Edith Raylean McLeod Hobbs and Joe Dean Hobbs, Sr. Hobbs, Sr. learned his trade as a butcher while in the military and went on to open thirty restaurants. He was also a minister in the Apostolic Pentecost Church, a fundamentalist group. Terry Hobbs claimed to have seen evil spirits cast out. His upbringing was strict, the family faith did not allow a television at home or participation in sports. Along with his brothers, he was expected to work in the slaughterhouse, butchering pigs and cattle. He completed the 10th grade at Cave City High.
Terry and Pamela were having difficulties in their marriage prior to 1993. They had separated for a time. Shortly after the murders, the Hobbs retreated to Pam's family home in Blytheville, Arkansas. Two weeks after the murders, Terry left Pam to stay in Hardy, Arkansas, 120 miles from West Memphis. By doing this Terry avoided being brought in for questioning by the police.
From the beginning, Pamela's family accused him of the murders. According to Terry Hobbs, his brother-in-law, Jackie Hicks, Jr. had regularly threatened him for having killed Stevie. Their dispute came to a boil in November 1994 when Terry struck Pamela and Pamela called her family for help. Terry loaded his 357 Magnum with hollow point bullets. When Jackie Hicks, Jr. began fighting with Terry, Terry shot him in the gut. He survived for ten more years until he died from a clot released during a follow-up surgery. The Hicks blamed Hobbs for his death.
Terry Hobbs was arrested for drug possession in 2003. He was reported twice for abusing his daughter, Amanda. Pamela Hobbs took out a restraining order against him in 2005. They are divorced. Terry's name was removed from his stepson's tombstone.
Hobbs vs. The Dixie Chicks
Like fellow country singer Cheryl Crow, Natalie Maines Pasdar, a member of the popular band, The Dixie Chicks, could lay claim to the verse, “I was born in the South / sometimes I have a big mouth / when I see something that I don't like.”
A vocal supporter of the West Memphis 3, during a rally in Little Rock, Pasdar reiterated some of the recent findings presented by the lawyers and reasons why Terry Hobbs should be considered a suspect. Months later, on November 25, 2008 Terry Hobbs, declaring he had been defamed and publicly accused of murder, filed suit against Pasdar. For Terry Hobbs, it was a disaster.
Allegations became sworn depositions and Terry Hobbs was required to defend his past behavior, his criminal record and his actions the night the children went missing. Under scrutiny, Hobbs stories became inconsistent and incoherent.
Close associates and several members of Pamela Hobbs family gave sworn depositions with devastating accusations.
Jo Lynn McAughey, Stevie's aunt, stated that Terry Hobbs repeated sexually molested his daughter, Amanda. She stated that he used cocaine, crystal meth and marijuana. She stated she was at the Hobbs house on May 6, 1993 and saw “Terry wash clothes, bed linens and curtains at an odd hour. [snip] ...he was not just washing the dirty laundry, but he was also taking clothes out of the dresser drawers and washing those, too.” She stated she found Stevie's prized pocketknife, one he always kept with him, among Terry Hobbs belongings. Pam declared she was surprised that the knife was not found on his body. Jo Lynn said that Terry Hobbs had told her that his experience as a butcher gave him the skill to make the cut on Chris Byers’ genitals. She stated she discovered Terry had a large cache of knives. In response, Terry Hobbs admitted to the drug use, gave contradictory stories about Stevie's knife, denied washing items on May 6th, denied discussing the murders with Jo Lynn and denied the molestation charges.
This is just a very small sample of the information from this website that has followed the case closely...
FWIW...after watching both documentaries at first, I was unswayed, primarily because, even though they made a good case the 3 boys might not be guilty, I never believed they made a credible case John Mark Byers was guilty. Crazy, yes. But too mentally damaged to follow through with a successful cover up.