Judge expected to rule in West Memphis 3 retrial bid

By Janice Broach - bio | email

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - Circuit Court Judge David Burnett is expected to rule Wednesday whether two members of the West Memphis Three will get a new trial.

The fight continues to free the West Memphis Three.  A billboard on Highway 70 in Crittenden County has lady justice with a tear of blood coming down her face and a phone number to call for information that might help in the defense.

Jessie Misskelley, Sr., the father of one of the members of the West Memphis Three, said he believes the billboard will help their cause.

"Everybody sees it they know there was injustice done to these boys," Misskelley said.

Judge Burnett's decision will deal only with Misskelley and Jason Baldwin's bid for a new trial.

Judge Burnett presided over the original trial more than a decade ago.  During hearings two years ago Baldwin and Misskelley maintained they received ineffective counsel in their original trials.

Misskelley and Baldwin said they do not want Burnett to grant them a new trial.  They want to take the case to federal court where defense attorneys feel they have a better chance.

New tests three years ago of crime scene evidence showed there was no DNA evidence connected to Baldwin, Misskelley or Damien Echols.  Judge Burnett used that to rule that Echols, on death row, should not get a new trial because there is not enough evidence to prove him not guilty.

Defense attorneys say new evidence and witnesses point the finger at the stepfather of one of the three murdered 8 year old boys, Terry Hobbs.  West Memphis police say Hobbs is not a suspect.

Mark Byers, the father of one of the murdered 8-year-old boys, said he wants the West Memphis Three to get new trials because he believes the investigation was seriously flawed.

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