On July 1st, progress was made in Arkansas toward getting Damien Echols a new trial. Damien, Jason and Jessie were tried in county court and have had to go through their appeals in county court. Judge Burnett, the same judge who presided over their original trial has insisted on being the presiding judge over every appeal that has ever taken place in regards to the WM3, even cimung out of retirement to do so. As I understand it, you have to go through a certain procession of appeals before you can get out of the local court system and appeal to the state’s Supreme Court. At this moment, Damien is now making an appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court who is in the process of info-gathering to make a decision as to whether or not Damien needs to be re-tried.
Since the 1994 conviction, a lot of evidence has come out to support their claim that they are innocent and also it has been found out that the Jury Foreman in Damien and Jason’s case had not only decided on their guilt prior to the trial ever starting (based on what he had read in newspapers and seen on TV), he also talked about the case outside the courtroom while the trial was still ongoing AND openly admitted to coercing more doubtful jurors to find them guilty. Because of this, they were unable to have a fair trial.
Judge Barnett was trying to keep this information out of the State Supreme Court’s hands. For some reason this judge just does not feel secure enough in their guilt that he is resorting to tactics to keep them in prison. If he was assured of their guilt, why not then just let another judge preside? Or why not provide everyone with the same info and le them draw the same conclusion he did, that they’re guilty. A lot of money and reputations have been built on this case, that’s why.
Anyway. The Arkansas Supreme Court last week demanded that Judge Burnett turn over the Juror Misconduct info as well as DNA tests and dental impressions that point away from the WM3 to use in their consideration for whether or not Damien gets re-tried! He has 30 days to fork it over and it will take them 30-60 days to go through the information and decide.
There’s hope yet! Guys we have a ducked up system when a person’s got to go through almost 20 years of appeals processes before you can get the Supreme Court’s attention. And it’s not like Damien’s been biding his time watching the Simpsons. He’s spent 20 years in Prison. In Solitary Confinement. On Death Row. Makes me grateful for all I have.
Anyway here’s a link to the article: