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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Denver, Colorado

    The West Memphis Three For Dummies

    Sometimes I think I could use a book like this - re this case! I am trying to find answers to these questions and having a little trouble searching through Callahan.

    Could someone point me to where Damien, Jessie and Jason's alibis during the time of the murders are? Were they proven at all?

    Were any of the three given lie detector tests and were the results made public?

    Also, for the supporters - why do you think Jessie confessed 3 times? This has really been bothering me. I can see the first one - but the other two. He wasn't pressured or being held by the police etc.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Ok, I'll try and answer in order, and to the best of my ability. Any mistakes in the following answers are my responsibility alone and not to be taken as evidence against the wm3 or any other supporter.

    1) Jessie's alibi was presented in full at trial, and can be read in his trial transcripts on Callahan's. For more detail on those, simply use the Callahans search engine to look up the names of the alibi witnesses whose testimony you have found in the trial transcripts.

    Damien's alibi was also presented at least in part at the trial, iirc. You can use the search engine in the same way for those.

    Jason's alibi was never presented at trial, and has to be searched for among the WMPD witness statements. In short, Jason gave his alibi as - he mowed his uncle's lawn after school, then went to the mall and played computer games with a friend, and then went home and babysat for his brother while his mother went to work. I think the quickest way to get a handle on Jason's alibi is to simply read his own testimony at the rule 37 hearing, and then search the names of the alibi witnesses he gave.

    2) Jessie and Damien were both polygraphed. Jessie was told that he had failed his polygraph, but an independent expert who examined the results said he had passed. And no, before anybody asks, the expert in question was not being paid by the defense either. He was working pro bono.

    Damien is also said to have failed his polygraph according to Bill Durham, the same person who said Jessie failed, and incidentally said Vicki Hutcheson passed. Damien's results were never examined by an independent expert, and the full recordings are not available on the Callahan's site.

    3) Jessie confessed five times, not three. He confessed twice pre-conviction, at which stage he could have got up and walked out of the police station at any time, or asked for a lawyer, or simply sat there and exercised his right to silence.

    He further confessed three times post-conviction, at which stage he could do nothing. He was under extreme pressure at that stage because he had been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. His defense lawyer having failed to save him from the consequences of his pre-conviction confessions, he accepted the advances of the prosecution to do a deal to reduce his sentence.

    I do not understand why people find Jessie's first confession easy to understand, but his later ones not. Seriously, why would you think it easy to see a false confession when someone has the right to get up and walk out any time they like? Is it not far easier to understand why a convicted person would become desparate enough to trade false testimony for freedom?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Smile I can help

    My new book, "Untying the Knot: John Mark Byers and the West Memphis Three" has gone for final editing and will be available this spring. As the title indicates, the book is about both Byers and the Three and is not simply another advocacy piece where dissenting opinions are avoided. Mark's opinion is well known, and it is given full voice, but so are other opinions as well as - surprise, surprise - the facts. I studied the case extensively and made multiple trips to Arkansas over a seven year period to get the most balanced information for my book. (www.johnmarkbyers.com)

    To the questions at hand, based on Cappuccio's response. I have been able to verify only four "confessions", or statements by Misskelley implicating himself, Echols and Baldwin. This content was cut from the book so I have no problem posting it here. It's a little wordy but it's complete.

    Jessie actually gave four statements regarding the events of May 5. His first was to police at the West Memphis Police Department on June 3rd, which led to his arrest, along with Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.

    After his conviction on February 4, 1994, Jessie allegedly confessed again to the sheriff’s department deputies who were transporting him from the county jail to the state prison at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. No recording was made of this statement.

    Jessie gave a third, post-conviction statement to Dan Stidham at Attorney Joe Calvin’s office on February 8. Prosecutors were trying to make a deal with Jessie to testify in the upcoming Echols/Baldwin trial, and Stidham forced Jessie to make this statement with his hand on a bible (this would become known as the “bible confession”). Misskelley tried to rehabilitate himself from earlier statements—for example, correcting himself by saying the boys were tied up with shoelaces not “brown rope” as he had earlier stated—but the statement was still riddled with inconsistencies and lacked the sound of authenticity.

    Finally, and against the advice of his attorneys, Jessie made a fourth statement on the eve of the Echols/Baldwin trial, apparently looking for a deal where he would testify for a reduced sentence. All four statements were similar in style, though some of the details varied. It is very difficult, if not impossible, based on these statements, to determine if Jessie Misskelley was ever at the crime scene, and what, if anything, he saw or did. It is interesting to note, however, that although Jessie agreed to go to the scene with the police to point out the exact locations of the murders, he was never taken to Robin Hood Hills (Inspector Gary Gitchell cited "security concerns").

    As for alibis, my book covers those in detail as well. Echols and Baldwin had hearsay, uncorroborated alibis and Misskelleys were all discredited at trial. Baldwin's trial attorney said from the stand at his Rule 37 hearing that he put on no alibi witnesses because he could find none who couldn't be impeached by the defense, and it is hard to doubt him. Even a public defender would try first to find alibi witnesses. For a sixteen-year-old who had many household responsibilities, this should have been easy. Even in 2009, Baldwin's mother, finally getting to take the stand along with her son, could come up with nothing she hadn't told police in 1993, i.e., that Jason had been mowing his uncle's lawn, playing video games at Wal-Mart, and home by 9:00.

    Once I'm done with production, I'll start to put content that didn't make the cut, as well as anything new, up on the blog, blog.johnmarkbyers.com, or the website. Check both!

  4. #4
    Jessie made two statements on June 3, 1993, to LE. The original statement was so riddled with errors that Gitchell and company had to get a "clarification" statement before a judge would issue arrest warrants. Both of Jessie's 6/3/93 statements are available on Callahan's.

    I agree with Cappuccino about the alibis. IMO, the fact that Jason's attorneys didn't present his alibi at all in court should have been sufficient evidence to prove insufficient counsel. Of course, Burnett didn't see it that way, shock, shock!

    ETA: As to why Jessie gave multiple statements implicating himself and Damien and Jason for murders of which they were innocent, Jessie has an IQ of 72. At the time of the original statements, he was only 17 years old. According to research provided elsewhere on this board (the "False Confessions" thread), two of the primary reasons people give false confessions are mental incapacity and youth. Jessie falls into both of those categories.

    According to Dan Stidham in an interview (sorry, my computer crashed yesterday and I lost all of my research links), I think it was the one with Paragould Press, Jessie was harassed from the time he was convicted (including in the police car going to prison) in an attempt to get him to make another statement and, more importantly, to testify against Damien and Jason. He refused to lie on the stand. So, he didn't testify against the other two.

    The two post conviction statements were made within days of each other. The first one (2/8/94) was made privately to Dan Stidham because the prosecution had called Stidham saying that Jessie wanted to make a statement. Stidham conducted a private interview with Jessie in an attempt to determine if Jessie was about to perjure himself. When Stidham heard what Jessie was going to say, he (Stidham) convinced Jessie not to make a statement at that time.

    Following more pressure from the prosecuting attorneys and others at the prison (which they will deny because it is unethical if not illegal), Stidham was again called in because Jessie was wanting to make a statement. This time, the prosecutors took no chance that Stidham could change Jessie's mind about making a statement. Stidham was only allowed about five minutes with his client until the prosecutors burst into the room and again pressured Jessie. So, the "official" post conviction statement was made. In this statement (2/17/94), Jessie basically told the same story, with some embellishments, that he told Stidham on 2/8/94. The problem with both of these post conviction statements is that they don't agree with the forensics (or the geography) in the case.

    Even though Jessie's trial had just concluded on 2/4/94, he still couldn't manage to get his facts straight, although I am sure that the prosecution drilled him with the story constantly. The 2/17/94 statement was the last time Jessie made an incriminating statement and, after talking to his father following that statement, has doggedly maintained his innocence since then.
    Last edited by Compassionate Reader; 02-23-2012 at 02:43 PM.

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