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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Paradise Lost

Aired February 16, 2014 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY BROOKS, KAIT 8 NEWS: Cameras are rolling on every word and movement of the West Memphis murder trial as reporters scurried to get the story. But as due to crew reports, the crew behind one camera isn't chasing the story. They're creating a comment on society.

DIANA DAVIS, KAIT 8 NEWS: This is the scene in (INAUDIBLE) courthouse. The defense, the prosecution and this film crew getting ready for the day ahead. These New York filmmakers spent the last eight months getting to intimately know the people involved in the case.

BROOKS: The filmmakers are considering calling the documentary PARADISE LOST. They expect it to air on HBO in about a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it fair to say that following the HBO documentaries, the PARADISE LOST documentaries.

GARY GITCHELL, FORMER CHIEF INSPECTOR, WEST MEMPHIS POLICE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There became sort of a public --

GITCHELL: That's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me finish my question. I'm sorry. There became sort of a public debate or controversy about whether the West Memphis Three had been wrongfully convicted?

GITCHELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that public controversy -- and I understand your position that it was caused by the documentaries, that that public controversy really did expand to be a national controversy.

GITCHELL: Right. It's almost a cause.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last time we saw them, the three boys were riding bikes together and they headed down towards the wooded area at the end of the street which was about 6:30 yesterday evening. And they're always in the house before dark. None of the three have ever been missing or taken off ever before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going through your mind as a parent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm scared to death. That's, you know, plain and simple. I'm scared for the safety and welfare of all three boys. And would appreciate any help that anyone would give us in recovering our three sons.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: West Memphis investigators continue to track down leads in the case but they still have no suspects.

GITCHELL: We've got 28,000, 30,000 people in West Memphis and as far as I'm concerned everybody is a suspect.

DAVIS: Instead of letting their kids walk home from school parents started picking them up. And in this middle class neighborhood, people wonder why no one has been arrested for the murders.

The reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer or killers has skyrocketed and is now at $25,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of West Memphis, all of West Memphis is just torn up.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: People in West Memphis gathered in church today to count their blessings after an emotional week capped by the arrests. For more than a month the savage murders of Steve Branch, Chris Byers and Michael Moore had nagged people's conscience.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At a press conference Inspector Gary Gitchell said the case against accused teens is very strong.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the scale of a 1 to 10, how solid is the case?

GITCHELL: Eleven.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Jesse Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin are now convicted killers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any reason to show the court or give the court at this time as to why sentence should not be imposed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pardon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm innocent.

TODD MOORE, FATHER OF MURDER VICTIM MICHAEL MOORE: Michael was kind of like -- kind of like Bart Simpson. He had a great sense of humor. He could make you laugh no matter how depressed you was, no matter how bad things were going. He always wanted everybody to be in a good mood. He could make anybody laugh. He'd come up with the silliest things. I damn sure miss him.

TERRY HOBBS, STEPFATHER OF MURDER VICTIM STEVIE BRANCH: Stevie was a fine boy. He was. We gave him a nice home, we felt like. And, you know, we're sad that this has happened. We're sad that he's gone.

MELISSA BYERS, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM CHRISTOPHER BYERS: I said that Christopher was a gift. Christopher was my gift. I have asked God why, you know. If you were going to take him, why didn't you take him when he was tiny? You know. Why did it -- you know, why did you let me love him for eight years?

JOHN MARK BYERS, STEPFATHER OF MURDER VICTIM CHRISTOPHER BYERS: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., I hope you all burn in hell and are tormented for eternity and a day. I couldn't ever put into words how much I hate you.

DAMIEN ECHOLS, SENTENCED TO DEATH: I know no matter what I say or do, there are still going to be people who won't believe it no matter what, but I did not kill those children or anybody else. I had nothing to do with it and I know nothing about it.

JASON BALDWIN, SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON: If I could talk to the families of the victims right now, they were led to believe by the police that we'd done it so I understand that they hate us, you know. Hate me. But I didn't do it. You know. I did not have anything to do with it. I'm sorry that your kids are dead. I'm sorry about that but all I ask is you all go back and look at the evidence. Just don't think and don't let your emotions about it all get through your head and just stop and think and look back at the evidence and look where the evidence does point. And ask yourself, you know, who do you think really done it?

JESSIE MISSKELLEY, JR., SENTENCED TO LIFE PLUS 40 YEARS IN PRISON: They know that they got three innocent people locked up for a crime they didn't commit. I didn't kill nobody but, you know, to me, I think it is wrong because, you know, it ain't about us. It's about the victims. They need peace. The victims' families need peace. And I think the police owes that to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The facts of the crime scene are actually a pretty interesting part of the case because this crime took place in a wooded area. It was near two major freeways. It happened right near a truck stop which is now closed. But it was a major truck stop. People would be in and out of that truck stop 24 hours a day. It was open 24 hours a day. And it also joined a 24-hour a day truck wash place. So there was -- there was traffic in that area.

DON HORGAN, POST-CONVICTION ATTORNEY FOR DAMIEN ECHOLS: There was so much hysteria around the nature of the crimes. There is a lot of fear in the community and naturally there is an incredible amount of pressure on the police to find who is responsible. But as days go by, there isn't -- the evidence doesn't obviously point to any particular individual again because there is very little left at the scene.

JOHN FOGLEMAN, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: About 6:00 on May 5th. Chris Byers, Stevie Branch and Michael Moore were last seen headed toward Robin Hood Hills.

MIKE ALLEN, DETECTIVE, WEST MEMPHIS POLICE: I was directed by an office that they had found a tennis shoe floating in a ditch. I had to go down to cross to get on the other side to get closer in and fell into the water here. And came up the bank and around over to the area where the tennis shoe was. I walked around the tree and stepped off into the water and was reaching for the tennis shoe and with my feet I could feel an object. And I raised up and I discovered this body.

FOGLEMAN: Detective Ridge, I believe that you had indicated earlier something about a stick in the water? Stuck in the water?

BRYN RIDGE, DETECTIVE, WEST MEMPHIS POLICE: Yes, sir.

FOGLEMAN: So tell me about that again.

RIDGE: It was a stick in the water that had a shirt around the end of it. And that shirt was jabbed down into the mud with a stick.

FOGLEMAN: Exhibit number 22. The ligature, the way that Michael Moore was tied and Stevie Branch was tied with ligatures, right hand to right foot, left hand to left foot. (INAUDIBLE). I found him tied (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there any visible blood apparent at the crime scene?

ALLEN: Any visible blood? Not on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you really look at the crime scene and the condition of the bodies and so forth, it's almost a blank crime scene. I mean, the bodies are concealed and then they're brought up and the kids are hog tied with shoe laces and there's not a lot of blood at the scene. So it's almost like a projection screen on which you can create any kind of theory about how and why the crime was done.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

J. BYERS: Right down here would be the house. 1400 East Park. It makes you kind of think what life might have been if this crime hadn't have happened.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Fears of satanic cults reached their peak last week when the teenagers were arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Names of several suspects appeared on railroad trestles along with what appeared to be satanic symbols.

DOMINI TEER, SUSPECT'S GIRLFRIEND: People from school who doesn't even know him now say he was a devil worshipper and he worshipped the devil and he's not in a cult.

J. BYERS: So many unanswered questions. All from a senseless act.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In the neighborhood, rumors begin.

LARRY ROBERTS, NEIGHBOR: Well, I've heard things before about cults and I really didn't believe it. But some of the kids in the neighborhood I talked to say there is and they've had -- found some animals back there when they play back there, it looks like they've been cut up. J. BYERS: It sure looks rough. When it's boarded up, man, the yard is boarded up. It doesn't look good.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At some time all three suspects in the West Memphis murder case have lived in the Lakeshore trailer park. Residents here claim to have seen strange ritualistic meetings at the park prior to the murders.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Joni Dwyer lives next door to Jason Baldwin. Her three boys often played with Jason but that all changed after her husband found some drawings Jason had done.

JONI DWYER, JASON BALDWIN'S NEIGHBOR: My husband just didn't like what he found in the drawings. He said, you know, it is devil worshipping, you know, he had snakes, the things they had, some of them were in Latin and stuff.

ECHOLS: We drew a little graffiti, like spray paint on the underpasses. But it was nothing satanic. Anything like that. It was just like our names, our favorite bands, things like that. And they seemed to place some big importance on it or something.

JERRY DRIVER, CRITTENDEN COUNTY CHIEF JUVENILE OFFICER: Some experts have said that the main three driving forces of Satan worship among teenagers is sex, drugs and rock n' roll. And that's probably true. When you're talking about rock n' roll, you're probably talking about the heavy metal groups.

Most people don't understand the situation as it was then. The area had had a rumored history of devil worshipping and that type of thing. That was something that people were seeing around the country at this time.

In Damien's case, it was the kids that came in and said that they saw him eating the hind quarter of a dog. But the rumors were rampant. The police department asked me to come up with a list of people that we had had dealings with in the juvenile department that might have had something to do with this.

GITCHELL: Damien's name was mentioned very early on by a lot of people. He does act strange. He wears the black clothing which creates attention to him.

M. BYERS: We were totally unaware that there was a satanic cult in West Memphis, that there were Satan worshippers in West Memphis. I didn't hear anything about this until my child was sacrificed to Satan. Then I heard about it. Why is it that I didn't know this before?

T. MOORE: I'm all for burning them at the stake just like they did in Salem. I don't have a problem with it. After what they have done to us. That still would not be good enough.

DAVIS: Good evening. I'm Diana Davis.

BROOKS: And I'm Tony Brooks. In a statement given to the police, 17- year-old Jessie Misskelley allegedly confesses to watching two other suspects choke, rape and sexually mutilate three West Memphis second graders.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Misskelley told police he watched 18-year-old Damien Echols and 16-year-old Jason Baldwin brutalize the children as part of a cult ritual.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you just say again how strong you feel this case is?

GITCHELL: Someone asked me on a scale from one to 10 and I told them 11. So that's how strong it is.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Graphic details have already been printed in today's commercial appeal. Jessie Misskelley, Jr. is one of three of the murder suspects.

JESSIE MISSKELLEY SR., SUSPECT'S FATHER: I don't believe it. He's not that type of boy.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Misskelley Sr. disputes a confession allegedly made by his son and quoted in today's newspaper. The paper doesn't mention how it obtained young Misskelley's statement. An unidentified woman called Action News 5 last Friday offering to sell us the transcript for several hundred dollars. We declined because we do not pay for news stories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Misskelley confession got leaked to the press. You didn't leak it, did you?

GITCHELL: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was that an item of concern to you at the time?

GITCHELL: Not really.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley plead not guilty to three counts each of capital murder.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Misskelley will be the first of three defendants tried for the murders of three West Memphis boys earlier this year.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The judge set one trial for late for late February, and Echols and Baldwin will be tried together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you describe for me what the press coverage was like?

GITCHELL: It was anything you would see today dealing with a major celebrity. I mean, look at the Michael Jackson coverage. That's the kind of coverage we were getting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that sort of coverage was at the time of the murders but also continuing through the trials? GITCHELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Reporters have written thousands of stories about these two trials. On KIET alone, our viewers have seen more than 130 stories about the three defendants.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The attorneys will be looking for jurors who can put aside the things they've heard in the media and make a decision based on the facts as they are presented in the trial.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This case poses a difficult balancing act. On one side the defendant's right to a fair trial. The other side, the public's right to know.

GITCHELL: I do recall being asked a specific question about the media once of how I felt this case was between a one and a 10. And I made a dumb remark of 11. You have to keep in mind the atmosphere at that time. We were 30 days into the case when an arrest was made. There was a lot of burden taken off of everyone that was involved in that case. We felt like we had a very solid case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you had it to do all over again, would you have made the comment about 11 on a one out of 10 scale?

GITCHELL: Probably would not have.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Six months from now, and trial is all over, I'll be with my parents and my family and everything will be happy, the way it was. But I'm scared about what could happen if they did find me guilty. I know they can. I just don't like to think about that.

GAIL GRINNELL, JASON BALDWIN'S MOTHER: The day he got arrested, no one called me. And I got home and there were police going all through my house. And I kept asking them where my son was. They gave me that testimony of Jessie that said it happened during the day and that he had skipped school. I had proof that Jessie was in school and it was the law but that didn't matter to Gitchell. They already had him in the courtroom before I could get up there with the school records and I had to fight my way through the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ma'am, what do you think about the report that your son's involvement in this thing?

GRINNELL: He didn't have anything to do with it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was he at school?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was at school.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The whole day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole day.

GRINNELL: It was a nightmare. I was in shock. Total shock. PAUL FORD, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR JASON BALDWIN: I first met Jason the morning of his very first appearance at the West Memphis Municipal Court.

My impressions of Jason are that he appears very shy and very timid. He does not appear to be an angry young man. He does not appear to be a violent young man. He does not appear to be a man who is capable of a heinous act for which he is charged.

JOHN PHILIPSBORN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR JASON BALDWIN: My client, Jason Baldwin, was essentially investigated, mainly on the basis that he hung out around Damien Echols and was known to be a good friend of his.

TEER: Jason was Damien's constant shadow. Wherever Damien went, Jason went.

FORD: Guilt by association. It's a scary thing to be accused of something because of your friends.

Why everybody thought it was Jason was because he hung out with Damien. Why did everybody think it was Damien? Because he was the guy who had the weird suit.

FOGLEMAN: My son wore black. They weren't prosecuted because they wore black T-shirts or liked heavy metal music.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you talk a little bit about, you know, that day when they brought you in, you know, for questioning and then, you know, later on, everybody was arrested? I mean, can you talk to us about what it was like?

MISSKELLEY: They just asked me who did it. And I didn't know who did it. The police kept on asking me who did it. I told them I didn't know, which I didn't know. I told the police where I was at that day. I was (INAUDIBLE), Arkansas, arrest me, which I was.

I don't like people asking me questions and I done told them once. You know, I don't like people asking me and asking me and asking me. I'm going to tell you one time. You know, I'm going to say something just to leave me alone. That's what I did. You know, I just -- they just egged it on, and finally I told the cops, all right, I did it. I killed them and everything.

That's my dad. Could he talk to me? And my dad said, sure. You can talk to him. So I got in a cop car with him and we rode to West Memphis. My -- you know, asked me it would be nice if I knew who done it. That's the time I think the reward was like $30,000. I said yes, I could use that -- you know, that money. The reward money. But that -- you know, but I didn't know who done it, though.

GITCHELL: Our intentions were wanting to talk to Jessie Misskelley were for the purpose of giving us some names of individuals that he may know firsthand of or heard of. Who are involved in the cult activity or Satanism. PHILIPSBORN: In the course of what was a very long day of interviewing, Jessie Misskelley goes from being a source of information to being a suspect who has, according to the tape-recorded statements, confessed to involvement in this crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What occurred while you were there?

MISSKELLEY: When I was there, I saw Damien hit this one. Hit this one boy real bad then he started screwing him and stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he hit him with?

MISSKELLEY: He hit him with his fist and bruised him all up real bad. Jason turned around and hit Steve Branch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

MISSKELLEY: And started doing the same thing. And the other one took off. Michael Moore took off running. So I chased him and grabbed him and held him, until they get him and then I left.

DAN STIDHAM, JESSIE MISSKELLEY'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this statement that Mr. Misskelley gave to West Memphis Police Department is a false story.

No one in 1993 understood the phenomena of false confessions. We now know we're not going to let the police take a kid off the street, interrogate him for 12 hours, and yet only have 41 minutes of audio tape to support this so-called confession.

MISSKELLEY: A year from now, hopefully I can be out and be with my family. Hopefully be married to Susie. Hopefully I'll have a kid. You know, I love kids a lot. I think I'll have some.

STIDHAM: Jesse is mildly retarded. It is much easier to get a confession out of someone who is 17 and operating at maybe a 5- or 6- year-old level of intellectual functioning than it is someone who graduated from Harvard.

MISSKELLEY: The police, you know, they questioned me for like 11 or 12 hours. And finally I just got tired, you know. My mind was, you know, draining me out. You know what I'm saying? I couldn't focus no more. My body was draining. I wanted to go home and be with my dad.

PHILIPSBORN: You can tell the difference between a real bona fide valuable confession and a false confession by looking at how well do the things the suspect tell you stack up with the objective facts of the crime. And what Jessie Misskelley talked about doesn't stack up to what the evidence shows.

MISSKELLEY: Damien and them left before I did. I told them I'd meet them there. It was early in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What time did you get there?

MISSKELLEY: I got there about 9:00. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the morning?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of Wednesday morning. I got real confusion with the times you're telling me.

HORGAN: With, you know, persistent police follow-up questioning, he keeps moving the time of the offenses later and later in the day until finally with leading questions, the police get them -- get Jessie to place the time of the crimes after the time the kids disappeared.

MISSKELLEY: It was my voice that you heard. I was saying what the police wanted me to say. Everything that I said really came from the police. Like, well, you told me earlier something about this and this and that. That's when I said, OK. That's when I repeat what they said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you told me earlier around 7:00 or 8:00 or -- which time is it?

MISSKELLEY: It's 7:00 or 8:00.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Well, that clears it up. I didn't know -- that's what I was wondering. Was it getting dark or what?

MISSKELLEY: We got out there at 6:00 but the boys came up when it was starting to get dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Now you're sure about that?

MISSKELLEY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. OK.

MISSKELLEY: I said what the police wanted me to say. That's the reason why I said that. Was it true? No. It was not true. Did I run anybody down? No, I did not. I didn't kill nobody. I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to be ashamed of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your verdicts are in good form and read as follows. We the jury having found Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr. guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Moore, fix his sentence in a term of life in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Count two, we the jury having found Jessie Lloyd Misskelley guilty of the second-degree murder in the death of Stephen Branch, fix his sentence at a term of 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Count three. We the jury having found Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr. guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Chris Byers, fix his sentence at a term of 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Is this your unanimous verdict, ladies and gentlemen? All right. You will receive a life sentence plus 40 years. And that will be the judgment of the court. M. BYERS: Prison is not a safe place. Jessie, sweetie, I'm going to mail him a skirt.

J. BYERS: One down. Two to go. Hopefully the same thing happened to the next two. We'll get the same verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, gentlemen, if you'd have your clients stand, please, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Echols, if you'd stand.

In your case, Mr. Baldwin, you'll be adjudicated guilty of three counts of capital murder. You'll be sentenced to the Arkansas Department of Corrections to a term of life without possibility of parole on each of the three counts.

Damien Echols shall be sentenced to death by lethal injection. He will be administered a continuous intravenous injection of a lethal quantity of alter (INAUDIBLE) acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent into your body until you are dead.

It is my obligation to let you know you do have a right to appeal and you need to consider that with your attorneys. He'll be in your custody, Mr. Sheriff, for immediate transportation to the Department of Corrections to carry out the orders of this court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Questions about whether justice was served has loomed since the verdicts. The HBO documentary PARADISE LOST gave the case worldwide attention.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Since the films, thousands are questioning the convictions.

EDDIE VEDDER, SINGER, PEARL JAM: Sixteen years ago I believe I saw the documentary PARADISE LOST that was on HBO. I got involved in the case thinking that there was maybe some way I could make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there something about the way Damien Echols was treated as a teenager that you can relate to?

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: I can remember being kind of looked upon as a freak or, you know, different, because I didn't dress like everybody else. So I can empathize with being judged by how you look as opposed to who you are.

KATHY BAKKEN, CO-FOUNDER, FREE THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE SUPPORT FUND: I saw the movie -- I'm an advanced screener because I work for an advertising agency.

GROVE PASHLEY, CO-FOUNDER, FREE THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE SUPPORT FUND: We saw it together, Kathy and I, and we immediately saw, gosh. Burk would probably like this. Actually not like it but he called us up and said these guys are innocent.

BAKKEN: We start contacting the lawyers because you just want to know more. And we're shocked to find out that nothing was getting done. They were just languishing there. It was horrible.

BURK SAULS, CO-FOUNDER, FREE THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE SUPPORT FUND: What can we do? We're in the entertainment industry. We can design things. And then you say what can you do with that? Like we can make a Web site.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Echols has his backers. A Web site is now online to raise money for the three men convicted of killing the West Memphis 8-year-olds.

SAULS: We're not experts ourselves but we've hired experts to look into the case for us because there was just so much doubt.

PASHLEY: One of the saddest things that I can remember about this whole thing and about our trips out here, is I remember being in a rental car like this, heading out to the prison. And I remember saying, can you believe that these guys have been locked up in prison for three whole years? And here we are, 17 years later. Heading to Pine Bluff to visit our friends again in 2011.

I don't like being here again but it is good to see these guys.

BALDWIN: Hi. My name is -- hi, my name is Jason Baldwin. And I want to thank all of the supporters out -- the people out there who have written me over the years. Who researched the case, did their -- you know, whatever it is that you did your best to let me, Damien and Jessie, and our families know that, you know, what happened to us will not be forgotten and it will be made right.

Americans have a system that's based on innocent until proven guilty but in this case it is the other way around. You're guilty until proven innocent. I never want to dream anything like this could happen to me.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Convicted West Memphis child murderer Damien Echols gives an exclusive interview to Action News 5.

ECHOLS: I think if they were capable of it, the public would probably form a lynch mob and come kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Damien Echols says he was railroaded by the police, prosecutors and the judge. It's been painful for the mother and stepfather of Stevie Branch to watch Damien Echols. They prefer he get no attention.

T. HOBBS: I'm glad he's in pain and miserable and all that. I'm glad he's just so messed up. And I would like to see prison kill him.

I was a stepparent back in 1993 when this happened. I was a good stepparent. And to watch it all go away on account of this, you lose your life to a degree.

PAM HOBBS, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM STEVIE BRANCH: You can say I sort of like died myself because I shut out humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Steve's death was so difficult for Pam to accept that other problems resulted. She separated from her husband and moved here to her parents' home in Blytheville.

T. HOBBS: A crime of this nature will take a toll on anybody. And I have seen this happen to our home.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tomorrow, 19-year-old Damien Echols' attorneys will file with the court the transcripts from Echols' trial more than 4,000 pages of testimony. That will set in motion the appeals process that Echols believes will lead to the overturning of his conviction and sentence.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Convicted murderer Damien Echols appeared in Crittenden County court for the latest hearing since his 1994 conviction.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Dan Stidham who represented Jessie Misskelley in the original trial says many questions remain unanswered.

STIDHAM: I firmly believe that this is a miscarriage of justice and we're going to keep going and keep going on how many -- it doesn't matter how many years it takes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It was an emotion daily especially for the victims' families.

P. HOBBS: Damien is not going anywhere. Justice prevailed the first time. I have all the faith in the world that justice will prevail again. And someday I'll get to watch Damien Echols die.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But they're not the only ones who want justice to prevail.

GRINNELL: Anybody with their eyes can see that these boys are innocent. They did not do it. And if she wants justice done, she needs to be trying to get this case reopened and find the real murderers of those three children.

T. HOBBS: Every appeal that has come up has caused grief and caused problems in the home. It brings back anger still today to see the pictures, the faces on the media, reliving it is a nightmare at times.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Damien Echols still walks even though four years ago he was sentenced to die.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Hope this works?

ECHOLS: Yes, but I don't think it will.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why don't you think it will work?

ECHOLS: Same judge.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: His appeals have been denied time and time and time again.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Now today defense attorneys did make a request that Judge David Burnett be recused from hearing these cases but that motion was quickly denied by the judge.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied every appeal by Damien Echols. The defense is counting on DNA testing to shed new light on the case.

T. HOBBS: This case was solved in 1994. And one day, in Arkansas, they're going to inject Damien Echols and he will pay with his life for what he has done with three little 8-year-old boys.

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DENNIS RIORDAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR DAMIEN ECHOLS: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Dennis Riordan. We represent Damon Echols in the Eastern District of Arkansas here in Little Rock arising out of the 1994 trial -- trials, really, of three teenagers who were tried and convicted for the murders of three 8-year-old boys.

And we are here today to discuss the evidence that establishes that no reasonable jury would convict Damien Echols essentially knowing what we know today. The heart of this presentation is for experts who we will be calling today who provided the core of the new evidence before the district court.

What is the new evidence that proves not merely that this was an unfair trial, but that innocent men were convicted? And with that I'll turn to my partner Don Horgan.

HORGAN: Good morning. I'm going to take a minute or two here just to review some of the DNA evidence that has recently surfaced in the case.

First a little background. In 2001, Arkansas, like a lot of other states passed a statute that allows convicted criminal defendants to challenge their convictions with new DNA evidence that shows them to be actually innocent. Under that state statute, relevant items from the crime scene in this case were tested at the laboratory chosen by the prosecution, and that's Bodey Laboratories in Virginia.

In late 2005, Bodey issued its first report showing DNA profiles of genetic material found on the victims and on other pieces of evidence from the crime scene. In the end, none of the Bodey reports could link any of the DNA provide by the defendants to the victims or to the crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: New evidence has emerged in West Memphis, Arkansas.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: New evidence released today claims testing unavailable in 1993 shows no DNA from the three imprisoned defendants was found on the bodies of the murdered boys.

For 14 years, John Mark Byers was convinced he knew who tied up and killed his 8-year-old son and two other Cub Scouts in a brutal mutilation murder. Now Byers and the state of Arkansas have been shown new evidence that the father tells ABC News has changed his mind about the guilt of the three boys known as the West Memphis Three. J. BYERS: I hated you. I believed with all my heart you killed my son. And I'm sorry for that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Damien Echols quit talking to reporters after getting warnings from his attorneys. Last week Echols said Mark Byers committed the murders.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does it come as a surprise, Mark?

J. BYERS: We don't have any comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got knowledge about the area. He knows when the search is over with. He is big enough that he can carry the boys there and throw them in. His son was the only one mutilated. The other two weren't mutilated. All of the pieces fit together with a person like Byers.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: After the sentencing, the mother and stepfather of Christopher Byers moved out of West Memphis. Echols claims Byers is the real killer.

ECHOLS: I think basically in a fit of anger he killed him.

BYERS: You've got to be the biggest pathological liar. I hope he rots and burns in hell for eternity. I hate his guts more than anything on the face of the earth.

DAVIS: Mark and Melissa Byers moved to Cherokee Village to get away from the memories of their son's murder in West Memphis.

BROOKS: But the trouble followed them.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They're accused of taking $20,000 worth of property from a neighbor's house. But that's only the beginning of their legal problems. According to court documents, Mark Byers was with a juvenile who allegedly assaulted another young man. Byers says he let the boys fight in his presence because he wanted to make sure it was a fair fight.

J. BYERS: All I could think about is thinking about my son getting beat to death.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Byers stood by watching the fight, holding a gun. Now a few of the Byers' neighbors say they now have questions about Mark Byers and the West Memphis murders.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Byers' wife did die recently. But an autopsy showed small amounts of drugs in her body, but nothing that should have caused her death. So that death remains a mystery.

J. BYERS: I made a good scapegoat. I made a good target. But I didn't care, you know. There was no one left but me. And I really didn't care. I mean, deep inside I knew I didn't kill anybody. I felt like the state had who they're supposed to have.

Burn and go to hell. But what is right and what is wrong are two different things. And the right thing is that these three men are innocent. That's the right thing. And, yes, it was hard for me to stand up and admit that I was wrong. But wrong is wrong.

That's a letter Damien Echols, PO Box 400, Grady, Arkansas. "Dear John, first I want to start off by apologizing to you. I know how it feels to be accused of something you didn't do. Now these years later, I see just how wrong I was, and I'm sorry. I did the same thing to you that everyone else did to me. The second thing I want to say is thank you. I know it can't have been easy to put aside all of your emotions and look at the evidence with cold, hard logic, but you did. I can't help but believe there is a reason for all of this for both of us. Take care and know that my thoughts are with you. Damien Echols."

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