West Memphis 3 judge speaks after 18 years

(WMC-TV) – For 18 years the West Memphis Three appealed their case and every time Judge David Burnett denied those appeals and he refused to speak about the case or the men. outside of the courtroom.

"Frankly, everything I did was affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court," Burnett said.

In 1993, Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore were found murdered near their West Memphis homes.

Three teenagers - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley - were found guilty of those murders.

Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison. Echols was sentenced to death.

Last August, after weeks of negotiations with prosecutors, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were released from prison without a retrial.

Now a state senator, Burnett said that was a mistake.

"I'm not real happy with the outcome," he said. "I would have preferred to see them have a new trial."

As for the prosecutors and judges who released them, Burnett said they did their job.

"And I did mine as I saw it."

Burnett said for 18 years he had the state's highest court on his side and to those who said he should have granted a new trial, Burnett had a simple message.

"Well, that was my opinion. They didn't need one, but I wouldn't have objected if they'd gotten one. That was my decision at the time."

The West Memphis Three have become modern day celebrities since their release in August 2011. Their supporters include singers Natalie Maines and Eddie Vedder.

Baldwin and Echols have been spotted on the red carpet at the premiere of a new documentary examining their case while Misskelley has kept a relatively low profile at his family's home in Crittenden County.

For Burnett, it's a bit much.

"The way it's ended, it's now a Hollywood comedy in my opinion and I don't like that."

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