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Publicist for 3 men says lawyers to get a look at evidence

by Lara Farrar | November 28, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

Attorneys for one of the three men convicted in a 1993 Arkansas murder case that received international attention will be allowed to examine whatever evidence remains from the case that is being stored at the West Memphis Police Department, a publicist for the West Memphis Three said.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were convicted in 1994 for the brutal murders of three 8-year-old boys, whose bodies were discovered in a drainage ditch near West Memphis.

Though no DNA evidence ever tied the West Memphis Three to the crime scene, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley spent nearly 20 years in prison until a twist of events in August 2011 when prosecutors allowed the men to immediately walk free in a deal known as an Alford Plea.

Still, the men have maintained their innocence.

Through his attorneys, including Little Rock lawyer Patrick Benca, Echols has been requesting to use new technology to test evidence from the case in the hopes, he says, that the true killer will be identified, leading to the exoneration of Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin.

In an apparent ongoing battle with local officials and the West Memphis Police Department, attorneys have been unable to confirm what evidence remains or if they would be able to test any of it.

At one point, attorneys said they learned that some of the evidence might have been destroyed in a fire.

Lonnie Soury, the publicist, said West Memphis City Attorney Michael Stephenson informed Echols' attorneys that they would be allowed to visit the West Memphis Police Department to examine the evidence.

Stephenson declined to comment on the matter for this article.

Soury said a date has not been confirmed as to when Benca and an investigator will visit the Police Department.

Earlier this year, Echols' attorneys said they learned from Keith Chrestman, prosecuting attorney for the 2nd Judicial District -- which includes Crittenden County where West Memphis is located -- that much of the evidence might be gone.

In an April interview with the news website Talk Business & Politics, Chrestman confirmed that the evidence might no longer exist.

"We are looking forward to reviewing the evidence and hoping to find evidence that we can test DNA on," Soury said. "We are anxious to get to the bottom of it." Since their release in 2011, attorneys and supporters of the West Memphis Three – who have been the subject of numerous articles, movies and books – have been working to clear the three men's names.

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