Fries, Cats, Blanche, Exquisite Toenails and WM3

Last night I made some progress on the Etsy shop. Today I have a few things on my agenda but I hope to at least make a little prototype of what I’m going to start off selling. I just wanted to post an update about that so you know I wasn’t joshin ya and that I am a woman of my word.

Also, these cats are going to be the death of me. They have a new habit of SWARMING me when I get out of bed. They want to be fed. I usually feed them right away and now they are getting pushy. I want them to knock off the pushiness so I am making them wait a little. They follow me around and wind around me feet with every step making it impossible to walk. *sigh* Adorable assholes they are.

We got “Tales from the Crypt” from Netflix yesterday. It was good to see that dusty old pun-maker again. I want to watch it again NOW!

We just had grilled cheese and garlic fries for brunch. Have you guys ever had those garlic fries from Trader Joe’s? Ooooh do they have a lot of garlic on them but hot damn are they good!

LATER:

I was writing that early this afternoon.  I’ve since run a bunch of errands and have also eaten again.  Really really fascinating stuff.  BUT here is a very, very vague prototype of what I’m going to be making.  I’ll show you more as I go along but I just wanted to share because I’m excited!  It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it makes me chuckle.

One of my errands was going to print the Blanche stuff.  While waiting online at Staples, this woman was standing in front of me.  She was a MESS of crazypants but my favorite physical feature of hers were her lengthy, manicured toenails.  My favorite personal feature was that she was calmly standing in Staples and making copies of glamour photos but then she got on her cellie and started talking in a coquettish voice and saying she was stuck in traffic.  She said, “Oooooh there’s so much TRAFFIC!  It’s just terrible!”  And THEN she said she was on Crenshaw which is at LEAST twenty minutes from here.  And THEN she said she was rushing to wherever the person on the phone was, begged them not to leave and said she’d be there soon.  Then she got off the phone and went on with her business as calm and unrushed as ever.  Haha.  A-mazing.  And no I don’t know what is the matter with her heel.  If you know, please tell me.

 

P.S. And I can’t believe I found time to talk about some woman’s exquisite toenails and not about this!  The WM3 are going to get another hearing to see if they should get new trials based on the DNA evidence that exonerates them!  Big news!!!

Awesome: WM3

wm3.org

Guys,

I’m really happy because there is not a day that goes by that someone doesn’t read the blog I posted last June about the West Memphis Three. People who google anything about the case can find my blog, a few pages back but still. It just makes me happy that in a little way, I’m helping these people just because of a blog I took a little while to write.

Anyway, I just wanted to mention it because it’s something I constantly marvel at and am thankful for. I’ve been behind on my WM3 news though, gotta stop slackin.

Good news for Damien Echols!

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:

http://wm3.vox.com/library/post/arkansas-supreme-court-orders-judge-burnett-to-turn-over-new-evidence.html?_c=feed-atom

Balanced perspective?

Last night I got “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three” in the mail.  I started reading it today.  This is considered to be, apart from WM3.org, the heavy reading about this case.  The author, Mara Leveritt, decided to look at the facts of the case objectively, read all of the court documents, transcripts, police reports, etc and compile it into a book, using tons of notation to underline her research.  I am just starting to read it today.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m almost done reading Damien Echols’ book “Almost Home: Volume 1” which is a memoir of his life leading up to his arrest and during the trial etc.  It’s self-published and was written on legal paper so there are errors and it’s kind of like reading a super-long blog entry.  It’s interesting to hear the events described from his end of it.

Anyway, I’m going to read “Devil’s Knot” which is basically in the end, Pro-WM3.  After that I’m going to read “Blood of Innocents: The True Story of Multiple Murder in West Memphis, Arkansas”.  “Blood of Innocents” is considered to be slanted in the opposite direction, against the WM3.  I mean, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject and I am obviously of the mind to that the WM3 are innocent and that the real killer is still out there.  But I’d like to see if “Blood of Innocents” has evidence in it that makes my opinion waver.  If I’m wrong about the WM3, I don’t want to blindly support them.  But everything I have seen so far, every article, every website, every court document, all of the evidence, it all points away from these three guys.  So I’ll give it a read.  If it makes me waver, I’ll just have to do more research to find out the validity of those claims.  If it doesn’t make me waver, then I know that what I believe to be true, IS true.

I truly don’t believe that these guys did this.  I really truly believe that they are in prison because they were obvious suspects, poor and could not defend themselves against these allegations.  The public officials in Arkansas all say that if the public had the information laid out in front of them like they did and like the jurors involved did, they’d know that the right people were behind bars.  But that’s not true.  The information is available online and you can read it yourself on WM3.org.  The families of the victims no longer believe they have the right people in jail.

I just don’t think it’s right that people should be arrested, tried and end up in prison for life for a crime that cannot physically tie the ones sentenced to the crime.  I feel like, at the very least, give them a new trial.  Let the bite marks, alibis, and DNA come into evidence and try these guys with science.  Hold the evidence up to the meter we now use.  These guys were tried and convicted solely on hearsay (which has now been admitted to be lies by the people involved), on rumors (that the police themselves started), on fear and on a desperate need to calm the community who was growing steadily more and more panicked.

It just makes me feel terrible that the possibility of these people being innocent yet serving life sentences could end up robbing them of their lives.  And I just can’t understand why Arkansas won’t just re-try them.  Why not?  If they’re certain that the right people are in prison, they’ll be re-convicted and their decision will be upheld.  Damien Echols himself has said that he’d never want the ruling to be overturned.  He’d never want to be released without being re-tried because he would want his name to be free and clear before he went back into the world.  That, to me, doesn’t sound like a person who is hoping to commit a crime and get away with it.  It sounds to me like a person who didn’t do what he is accused of doing and is pissed off about being painted with that brush.  So I’m going to read these books with (somewhat) objective eye and then report my findings.

One final point I want to make in all of this is that someone I know and love ALSO did a substantial amount of time in prison for a crime they did not commit.  So I know it’s possible, I know it happens and I am part of a group of people who had to stand on the sidelines waiting for someone to come home who was robbed of many years of their life with their family and friends.  I know the toll it takes on the person and the people that love them.  Conviction doesn’t necessarily equal guilt.

So if there is a chance that someone else did this crime, I think that that should be examined.  That’s all.  And if we pay attention and put enough pressure on the right people, they can be re-tried by today’s standards and justice will be finally served.

WM3 say thanks

Guys if you haven’t watched the other videos I’ve posted, please watch these.  These videos are three years old.  Please spread the word and let’s try to get these guys a new trial at the very least.

They have family and friends at home who’d like to see them come home.  I know that if they were my family and friends I’d want everyone and anyone to listen and spread the word and I know you would too.  So please help them out by spreading the word any way you can.

WM3: Time for Truth, Parts 1 & 2

Guys, watch the above videos to find out why it is that these three people should not be sitting in jail.  Remember, despite the above evidence, Damien Echols is sitting on Death Row and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are going to spend the rest of their lives in prison.

It’s just not right.

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

I wanted to show you guys the trailer for Paradise Lost 1 because I want you guys to see that this IS an interesting movie if nothing else.  The first movie (above) just basically shows a more or less balanced version of the events as they took place not giving much credence either way to whether the WM3 did it or did not.  Mostly you are able to draw your own conclusions.  Damien is kind of painted as a somewhat histrionic nutcase as are the parents of the dead kids.  Watch it, it’s good yo.

Why the WM3 concerns you…

This case has no winners, no happy endings and no justice.  There certainly wasn’t justice served for those three children who were viciously murdered.  There definitely wasn’t justice served for the families who were devastated by the loss of their children.  There wasn’t justice served for the Echols, Misskelley or Baldwin families.  And you can have the opinion that Damien, Jason and Jessie did this.  Most people DO…at first.  I did.  Kristyn just did.  When you watch the first movie of Paradise Lost, you might too.  You see three poor kids, you see Damien Echols acting like an arrogant teenager rock star, you see the anger of the families, that Jessie Misskelley gave a confession AND the fact that all three kids were found guilty on all three charges.  You look at that and say, “Well they MUST be guilty bc no reasonable person would put someone to death for a crime where there was no evidence.”

Then you watch Paradise Lost 2.  Paradise Lost 2, outlines the mistakes made in the original trial, evidence originally missed (such as bite marks found on the bodies, NONE of which match the tooth impressions of the three sitting in prison), the growing movement to overturn this ruling and profiles into other avenues of suspects never pursued.  I can’t get into all of it right now but I will be writing more on the subject at a later date.   In the meantime, I encourage you to go to the following sites to look up information:

www.wm3.org
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Memphis_3

There are more too but everybody loves a good wiki and the wm3 site has more information than you can EVER read in a day so start with that.  (Wiki has other pages regarding this too, one on each kid, one on each movie, etc.)

I just wanted to put my impressions down as to why I’m sick to my stomach for forgetting about this while these three sit in jail.  I know I’m not going to single-handedly rescue these three from the fates that have been handed down to them.  They have a team of people, celebrities and a worldwide movement helping them.  It’s just that I saw these movies years ago and saw them as that…movies.  Not people…movies.  And I don’t even know why the hell I thought of Paradise Lost 1 and 2 again recently but something reminded me, we rented them from Netflix and watching these movies as an adult made me realize that it’s not enough to say, “That’s sad” and move on when I CAN do something to help.  I can write blogs, I can write letters, I can send money for commissary or their legal fund, I can tell people.  And why might you ask, would I want to help someone on Death Row or who is in Prison for life?  Bc that could be any one of us.  This is happening IN AMERICA.  Three people are in prison for almost half of their lives for a crime that they are not tied to via evidence, DNA, dental impressions, etc, etc, etc.  No one can place them at the scene of the crime.  They all have alibis.  THEY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THE KIDS WHO WERE MURDERED.  Their trials were a complete comedy of errors from start to finish.  Almost everyone involved in this crime that wasn’t put behind bars has profited in one way or another whether through bribe “rewards” to job promotions, etc.  Basically they were made an example out of and in a rush to get someone behind bars lots of different mistakes were made: something called “Satanic Panic” (which you can read up on and you WILL agree was huge in 1993), the bungled investigation of the local police, the leaks to the media, the big money “rewards” for tipsters in a poor community, the fact that these three boys were dirt poor and could not afford things like DNA testing or high-powered attorneys, the list goes on.

I mean Jessie Misskelley was interrogated for TWELVE HOURS WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY OR PARENTS PRESENT.  How can that happen?!  The boy has an IQ of 72.  After his trial, in an appeal to the case, his defense attorneys presented a video of them convincing him that he’d committed a robbery in his town.  It took them FIFTEEN MINUTES to do it.  Fifteen minutes.

Anyway, I’ll say more on this later, but I just…can’t abide this.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t forget about the children and the families destroyed in these murders.  That is, of course, the entire point.  Even if you look at people who look different and have a problem understanding them, I’m sure you CAN look at a case that has NO material evidence, no solid leads, no witnesses, no DNA matches, no NOTHING and wonder why three people have spent half of their lives behind bars.  Or at least wonder if maybe there is another explanation.  I mean teenage boys don’t do ANYTHING that’s not messy.  How can three teenage boys leave a crime scene so clean that it completely stumped trained police officers and investigators.  I couldn’t do that.

And surely if that doesn’t grab you, how about the fact that Terry Hobbs, one of the murdered boys (Steven Branch) step fathers’ hair was found in the shoelaces that tied up the boys.  OR the fact that his friend’s hair was ALSO found at the scene.

And if that doesn’t strike you as interesting, how about the fact that John Mark Byers (Christopher Byers) step dad gave the producers of Paradise Lost 1 a Christmas Present that was a used foldup hunting knife?  Or that blood matching Christopher Byers AND John Mark Byers was found in the fold of the knife?

OR that John Mark Byers has a lengthy criminal and drug past.  AND that he admits to being sexually abused in almost exactly the same manner as a child?

OR that Christopher Byers mother and John Mark Byers’ wife, Melissa Byers, died in a suspicious manner not long after.  John, at the scene of her death said, “They’re going to try to say that I strangled her but it was an overdose.”  Her cause of death remains undetermined.  Traces of non-lethal amounts of various prescribed and narcotic drugs found in her system AND physical signs of suffocation with a pillow exist.

I could go on and on (obviously).  Do yourself a favor and at least read up on the Wikis of this case.  If you go on WM3.org, ALL of the case files, autopsy reports and criminal cases, appeals, etc are on there as well as some letters from Damien Echols on what it is like to live on Death Row.   I’ll get into some of that at a later date.

But when you look at all of what I said, you STILL might want to believe they did it.  Whether you do or you don’t, still do yourself a favor and rent the movies, read the Wikis and go on wm3.org just to kill some time.

The point is, if this can happen to them, it can most certainly happen to you.  AND whoever killed those little boys still walks free for the past 16 years.  So either way you look at it, it’s just as easy in this country for you to go to prison for something you did not do as it is for someone to kill your kids and walk off scot-free to do it again.

Oh and a similar murder was committed not far from West Memphis after the three had already been sentenced and turned themselves in.  So someone is out there literally getting away with murder as Damien Echols, 34, gets closer and closer to being executed via Lethal Injection.  He is only 4 years older than I am, he’s never even seen the internet and only knows about the world what he sees on TV.

West Memphis Three

Chris Byers, 8; Michael Moore, 8; Steve Branch, 8

Chris Byers, 8; Michael Moore, 8; Steve Branch, 8

On May 3, 1993, three boys went missing in West Memphis, Arkansas.  Steve Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore went to school that day, came home, went out to play and were never seen again.  A search party went out that night and the next morning to find the boys.  At approx 10am the next day, their bodies were found in the woods in shallow water, naked and lifeless.  Steve Branch and Michael Moore’s ultimate cause of death was drowning.  They were also beaten, had head wounds and cuts and scrapes all over their bodies. Christopher Byers did not die due to drowning.  He was dead prior to being dumped in the woods.  He also had serious damage to his body and had been castrated.  All three were hog tied.

Of course, this caused an epic scandal in the local, state and national media. Three almost nine year old boys had been brutally murdered.  The public wanted answers.  The site of the crime was totally free of blood.  There were no weapons found at the scene.  No one had seen or heard anything.  In short, they had no leads.

Damien Echols was 19 at the time of his arrest.

Damien Echols was 19 at the time of his arrest.

A young teenager named Damien Echols caught the investigators’ attention.  He frequently wore all black, listened to Metallica, had long hair, read Stephen King novels and was Wiccan.  The police officers looked at everyone in town and tried to decide who seemed most likely to commit a crime.  Damien Echols was their main suspect.

The police went to his house and questioned him and his friend Jason Baldwin.  Both teenagers knew of the crime because of talk around town.  The police involved in the initial finding of the bodies had talked.  The people of West Memphis and then, therefore the media, had more information on the deaths than is usually released to the public.  Naturally, this event was the talk of the town and rumors spread fast.  By the time that police questioned Damien Echols, he knew more than he should have and parroted it back to the police who took that to mean he must have committed the crime considering he knew more than he thought he ought to have.  BUT they could not place him at the scene of the crime and the crime scene was too clean of evidence.

So the police started offering monetary rewards for tips regarding this crime.  In a poor town like West Memphis, that was really all of the incentive any of the townspeople needed to start “coming forward” with information.  All of the information has since been debunked and several of tipsters (even those who testified against Damien Echols) have since come forward to admit that they lied.

Jessie Misskelley was 17 at the time of his arrest.

Jessie Misskelley was 17 at the time of his arrest.

One woman, desperate for money, turned to her child’s babysitter, Jessie Misskelley.  Jessie knew Echols from around town.  They were around the same age and though they did not hang out, they were acquaintences.  The mother asked Jessie to invite Damien over to his house and try to get him to talk.  Nothing came of this.

This is how Jessie Misskelley got involved in talking to the police.  Jessie Misskelley, it should be noted, has an IQ of 72 and at the time had the speech, thoughts and demeanor of that of an 8 year old child even though he was 17 at the time.  The police interrogated Jessie trying to get a statement out of Jessie that he had seen Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin commit these murders.  After twelve hours of grilling Jessie, with no lawyer or parents present, the police officers turned on the video tape and recorded the only 45 minutes of video tape that exist from this interrogation.  These 45 minutes are a taped confession of Jessie Misskelley not only admitting to seeing Damien and Jason committing the crime but to actually confessing to have a hand in it.  It turns out that he was offered $30,000 in reward money if he would “just give them what they wanted and he could go home”.

Long story short, Jessie Misskelley went on trial and was found guilty of all three murders and sentenced to Life in Prison plus 40 years.  During his trial he plead Not Guilty and recanted his earlier confession.  This didn’t make a difference.

Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols were tried together but separately from Jessie Misskelley.  Jessie Misskelley was given the option to testify against Jason and Damien for a shortened sentence but refused on the basis that the confession was coerced. 

During the trial, the prosecution focused on Damien’s hobbies, interests, appearance and clothes.  They questioned him about Wicca.  They questioned him about bands he liked, books he read, art he’d made, his penchant for wearing black clothes, etc.  In short, they questioned him about things that did not have anything to do with the murders so they could paint the crime as a “Satanic Sacrifice Killing”.  Jason Baldwin opted not to speak in his own defense and therefore was not ridiculed this way.  Damien, being a confused and cocky 19 year old came across as arrogant and weird.  The court of public opinion considered them guilty as charged.

The jurors were instructed not to consider Jessie Misskelley’s confession as part of the evidence against Jason and Damien.  It has come to light since that at least two jurors used that confession as a deciding factor in their conviction.  It has also come to light that the juror foreman, repeatedly contacted non-jurors to discuss the case, although it was expressly forbidden to do so.  He is basically quoted as saying that he was unhappy with the case against Damien and Jason that the prosecution was leveling and that if they didn’t come up with more hard evidence, it would be up to him to convince the rest of the jury to convict them of the crimes.  This is currently being argued in court.

Jason Baldwin was 16 at the time of his arrest.

Jason Baldwin was 16 at the time of his arrest.

The result was that in 1994 (16 years ago) both Jason and Damien were convicted on all three accounts.  Jason Baldwin, 16, at the time, was sentenced to Life without Parole.  Damien Echols, 19, at the time, was sentenced to Death by Lethal Injection.

Two documentary movies were made on the the case, “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills” (released in 1996 on HBO) and “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations” (released in 2003 on HBO).  The first movie attempted to look at the case from a balanced perspective, allowing the viewer to decide whether or not the three were guilty of the crime, just laying out what went down basically.  By the time the second movie had come out, more evidence had come out due to technological advances and fresh eyes looking at the case again that basically prove that the wrong three people are in prison.

It takes a good look at John Mark Byers (the castrated boy’s Step-father), his odd behavior and criminal past.  It also shows the growing movement in support of these three people.  Since that movie was released, DNA evidence has come to light that totally exhonerates Jessie, Jason AND Damien but puts Terry Hobbs (Steve Branch’s step-father) and his friend at the scene of the crime.  Terry Hobbs’ hair is tied up in one of ligatures used to hog tie Michael Moore and Terry Hobbs’ friend’s hair was also found at the scene.  Both men were walking the woods that night together “looking for the boys”.

The point of my writing this is to lay it out as it is.  I may have gotten small details wrong but this is a synopsis of what happened.  I just wanted to lay it out for you to read so that you understand my next blog and the following information that can be found here:

http://www.wm3.org/

Also, so you know, these three boys (now men) all still sit in prison doing all that they can to try to keep Damien from being wrongly executed and to prevent Jason and Jessie from being held in prison for the rest of their lives for crimes they did not commit.

Damien Echols (top L), Jason Baldwin (top R), Jessie Misskelley (bottom L)

Damien Echols now 34 (top L), Jason Baldwin, now 31 (top R), Jessie Misskelley, now 33 (bottom L)