West Memphis Three Trial Essay

The West Memphis Three Trial is a Trial that involved three eight year old boys that were murder. These boys names were Christopher Byers, Stevie Branch, and Michael Moore. The murders of the three boys are suspected to be by three teenage boys. The suspected teens that supposedly committed the murders were Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley. All three of these boys fit the description of who murdered the three boys. (1) Later the three teenaged boys were arrested by police for murdering these three eight year old boys. The teenagers were sentenced to life in prison, all except Damien Echols, he had a death sentence.

He was the only one out of the three to be ordered a death sentence because it was believed that he was the one that was behind the three murders, and that Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were just helping with the murders. It is said that Jessie MissKelley had confessed to committing these murders on multiple occasions. One time was just the morning after the murders had occurred. His friend had come over to his house and Jessie told him that he hurt some boys last night. Misskelley did not go into any further detail about hurting the boys, but he did confess to his friend about it.

Another time he confessed was on his way to the police station, he kept going on about how he killed the three boys to the police officer. While in prison Jessie told his cellmate about his crime as well. He went into very descriptive details about the night of the murder, and continued on and on about it. Michael Johnson (Jessie’s cellmate) said that Jessie shouldn’t be released from prison because of this. Damien Echols was mentally ill at the time of the murders. In 1992 Damien was sent to a psychiatric hospital. He was sent twice by court orders. And also another time just by his parents.

His own parents didn’t trust him in their own house. Damien said himself that he was suicidal, a sociopath, and he was depressed. Also Damien had a weird thing with blood, and he would drink blood. The three teens were not held in prison for life, and Damien Echols was not sentenced to death. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years of prison. They were only released because of a rare form of plea. This plea that freed the three was the Alford Plea. This plea states that the defendant claims that they are innocent, but the prosecutor has evidence that says otherwise.

This means that the person tried of the conviction says that they are not guilty, but the evidence can show that they are indeed guilty. This is the reason that the three were freed. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Baldwin are now all set free. They all went separate ways after they were released. Echols went up to New York for awhile with his wife, then later moved to Massachusetts, and is now an artist and an author. Baldwin moved to Seattle, and is now a producer of the film Devil’s Knot. Finally Misskelley is the only one out of the three to return back to Memphis.

He is pretty unknown as to what he is now doing, and wants to stay out of sight for as much as he possibly can. There were two different trials in this case. One was for Jessie Misskelley and the other was against Echols and Baldwin. During the Misskelley trial, here’s what happened. The first witnesses that were called upon, was each of the teenaged boys mothers. They were then questioned. Each mother had to describe the last time that they each saw their boys on May 5, 1993. After all questions were asked to the mothers, the prosecutor, John Fogleman, showed the jury many pictures from the crime scene.

Fogleman wanted to prove that Jessie was not apart of the crime, so he had Lisa Sakevicius who is in a crime lab investigate the scene. In her findings she found green polyester fiber on one of the murdered boys, that traced back to some similar fiber that was in Damien’s house. There was also a red rayon fiber that was found at the scene that again was traced back to another article of clothing that belonged to Damien. To testify for Miskelley was Gary Gitchell. He was the one who questioned Jessie during the interrogation. Gitchell explained that Misskelley remained very calm during the whole interrogation.

During the questioning though, Jessie did fail to explain the story correctly and got some of the important details incorrect. For example one of the details that he got wrong was the time of the killings. Misskelley said that they took place close to noon, not at night. (3) A few short weeks after the Misskelley trial and decision, the Echols and Baldwin trial took place. Both of these teenagers had different attorneys with different opening statements. Jason Baldwin’s attorney, Paul Ford, used his opening statement to try to persuade the jury into thinking that Baldwin was innocent. Ford explained that Baldwin “is not a troublemaker”.

He continued to explain that Jason would always help around the house when his mother wasn’t there, or was sleeping. Baldwin is said to have helped his brothers in the morning before school. He would get them ready for school along with himself. As for Damien Echols, his attorney Scott Davidson used his opening statement to say to the jury that Echols isn’t like the rest of us. Saying that “He’s kind of weird”. At the end of his statement he concluded with the fact that there is no evidence to actually prove that Echols was there at the night of the murder. (3) The Echols and Baldwin case prosecution started similarly to Misskelley’s trial.

It started with their parents being called to stand and having them describe the last time that they had saw their sons the night of the murder. One testimony was from detective Bryn Ridge. He spoke about Echols’s interrogation. During the questioning Damien said that “all people have demonic forces inside them”. A lot of observations are made that relate to some type of satanic or spiritual ritual. Also relating to different types of religions. One observation that was made is the number of boys killed. Three boys were killed during this murder. In the Wicca religion it is said that the number three is a very sacred number.

Other strange things that Echols liked was books by Stephen King. This authors stories were about horror. This appears to be a strange combination because all the things that Echols enjoyed was based around horror, or just strange things in general. (3) Fogleman brought one of Damien’s ex girlfriends to the stand to testify as well. Her name is Deanna Holcomb. Deanna was there to clarify that Echols indeed did have the tendency to wear all black a lot of the time. She also stated that he sometimes carried knives with him at times. There was a search done at his house, and they said that hey found eleven black tee shirts and a skull of a dog.

The dog skull of which Echols probably killed and kept for his own entertainment. During all this a “cult expert” by the name of Dale Griffis was called to find out more about Echols and about what could be signs of a ritual. Griffis said that the number is in fact “one of the most powerful numbers in the practice of satanic belief”. Another thing that Echols did was sucking blood. Which was a very strange and weird thing that no one does. When asked what it meant, Griffis replied “blood is the life force”. He also explained that taking blood from a child is even more benefical because children are most innocent beings on the earth.

All of this information should concluded that Echols had to have planned this killing around the idea of satanic belief. Everything adds up to it. (3) To conclude the prosecution the last two people to testify were two girls. These girls were at a school softball game where Echols attended too. One of the girls says that she heard Damien say how he had killed three boys and had the intention of killing another two. Another girl that was at softball game was the same as the other girl that testified. (3) In Jessie Misskelley’s trial his defense attorney, Dan Stidham, didn’t know if it would be helpful to have him talk to the jury.

Stidham eventually decided not to have Misskelley testify because he could have easily been able to have been manipulated by Fogleman. If this would have happened Misskelley probably would have said some things that were untrue about the crime, just because it was want Fogleman wanted to hear. One of the people that testified was Warren Holmes. Holmes is the polygraph examiner. He was all ready to prepared to testify, but was permitted to do so by the judge. He couldn’t say that the results of the test proved that Misskelley told the truth on all questions, because it showed that he was innocent according to those results.