OPEN LETTER TO SUPPORTERS OF THE
WEST MEMPHIS THREE
As the lawyers who represent Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jesse
Misskelley in their respective state and federal court challenges to
murder convictions, we feel it necessary to reply to questions that have
publicly raised recently about whether conflicts have arisen between the
Each of us is ethically obligated to vigorously promote the legal
our individual clients. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the cases of
our clients are
in different procedural postures, we have worked cooperatively whenever
possible because the ultimate interests of Jason, Jesse, and Damien are
All three are accused of jointly committing crimes of which all three
Evidence that exculpates one therefore exculpates all.
That is plainly true of the critically important DNA testing that has
conducted on behalf of our clients in recent years. Our clients obtained
order authorizing that testing only by pledging to underwrite its cost
its extensive scope, has run into more than a hundred thousand dollars.
defense has had to pay those fees thus far because the State of Arkansas
mechanism to fund such testing, which all parties in this case agreed
had to be
conducted by an out of state accredited laboratory. Only the generous
supporters enabled the defense teams, and the State, to conduct that
is on going.
Counsel for all of our clients have participated in obtaining judicial
determinations as to which evidentiary items would be subjected to
have benefitted from the discovery that while DNA evidence of potential
has been recovered from the crime scene, none of that DNA came from
Misskelley and Echols. All of us have assisted in the development of the
findings by the nationÕs leading forensic pathologists that the victims
animal predation. Those findings have devastated the stateÕs theory that
the victims suffered ritualistic satanic injuries, a theory that the
state employed at
the trials of all three defendants.
We have the greatest thanks for all who in the past have financially
assisted the legal efforts to free Jesse, Jason, and Damien. Much work
be done. We have complete confidence that Lorri Davis and others who
organized past fund raising efforts have done so with integrity and with
the aim of
seeing justice done, and we can assure supporters that arrangements are
made to ensure that future contributions will be used to meet the needs
of all our
clients as they prepare for further legal proceedings in state court.
Dennis P. Riordan
Donald M. Hogan
Counsel for Damien Echols
Counsel for Jason Baldwin
Counsel for Jessie Misskelley
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Supporters and friends,
First, I would like to say that I support Damien's
statement on this issue 100 percent. Wm3.org has been
with us since virtually the beginning, working hard,
getting money together to pay for testing and
attorneys, and it is because of them that we now have
the attorneys and support we have now. We have never
turned away any help before and we have welcomed all
dontations from many different people from all walks
of life. However, when people attack Damien's wife and
the good people of the wm3 org, I do not find that
satisfactory, and it takes away from the true goal of
the fund... which is to get the truth out there about
what happened and to get the three of us free.
Therefore, I cannot accept donations from this group,
calling themselves"The WM3 Innocence Project", either.
I would like for everyone to stay focused on what the
main goal is, which is to get the truth out. When
people take away from that by putting forth
accusations and defamations of character, all it does
is take away from what we are trying to do.
Consequences from that can be very bad. I support,
and have always supported, Lorri Davis. I find her to
be an exceptional and honorable woman doing everything
she can to help the three of us. I also fully support
the defense fund that Lorri handles, and the people
behind Wm3.org. It is unfortunate that the focus of
this situation has been shifted to something of this
nature when everyone should be focusing on getting the
truth out, and bringing innocent men home. I urge
supporters to not let this distract you from
continuing to help and contribute, and to trust that
positive things are being accomplished.
With gratitude, Always,
Please make a donation to the Defense Fund today.
Please make checks payable to:
Damien Echols Defense Fund
PO Box 1216
Little Rock, AR 72203
Friday, January 18, 2008
January 18, 2008
Dear Friends and Supporters, It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write this letter, but it must be done in light of recent events. A man in my situation is allowed to have very little of anything, so the things I do have mean all the more--things like dignity and a personal sense of honor. I write this letter in order to keep that personal sense of honor intact.
The point of this letter is to inform the public, the supporters and the operators of the wm3 "innocence project" website that I will not be accepting anything from the operators of that website.
By making false accusations against my loved ones, my friends and the supporters who have gone out of their way to help me for many, many years the operators of the wm3ip website have caused me tremendous grief. At a time when I should be preparing for the upcoming fight against the charges made against me, I am having to deal with the actions and accusations made by this wm3ip group. I do not think the word "supporter" can be applied to any involved with the wm3ip website.
Sadly it is more like a confederation of individuals who have attempted to further their own agendas by making use of my name, pain and misfortune as well as that of Jason and Jessie.
These individuals are not connected or affiliated with me or my case in any way, and I will not be accepting anything from them due to the insults they have delivered to me, my loved ones and my true supporters. However, your donations and support are now needed more than ever, and anything you can give would be greatly appreciated. It will be needed to fund the upcoming hearing. And again, thank you all very much for your support. It is because of you that we have gotten this far.
Friday, January 11, 2008
1-2-08 ~ Letter from Lorri Davis
January 2, 2008
Dear Friends & Supporters:
As a new year begins, we are also starting a new round of work to fully – and finally – exonerate the West Memphis Three. Sometimes it's hard to believe that my husband, Damien Echols, has been on death row for nearly 15 years and that Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin have also spent their entire adult lives in prison for a crime they did not commit.
As you know, in late October we filed a 500-page motion in federal court with strong scientific evidence that all three men are innocent of the murders for which they were wrongfully convicted in 1993. This motion includes DNA testing on dozens of pieces of evidence, analysis from the nation's leading forensic science experts, other solid scientific evidence and compelling witness affidavits. There was no credible evidence presented when these three men were on trial; they were convicted based on fear, hysteria and innuendo. With our recent court filing, reliable scientific evidence finally came into this case, nearly 14 years after Damien, Jessie and Jason were wrongfully convicted.
We urgently need your help to make sure this evidence is fully considered. With your help, the strong scientific evidence will have its day in court, and Damien, Jessie and Jason can finally see justice.
The harsh reality is that uncovering clear evidence that the West Memphis Three are innocent isn't enough. A few weeks after we shared this extraordinary evidence with the federal court, we received an order from the judge saying we must resolve claims in state court before the federal courts will look at the evidence. The legal team has spent countless hours developing a strategy and plan to focus the court on this new evidence. Today, our lawyers – some of the nation's best and most dedicated appellate attorneys – formally asked the state court to separate the new evidence from pending claims and review it quickly.
Simply put, today we told the court that this evidence is too important and too powerful to let sit any longer.
In the weeks and months ahead, our lawyers will be preparing to argue this new evidence in either state or federal court. At the same time, our investigators are pursuing even more new evidence that the West Memphis Three are innocent. I need to be honest with you: It is frustrating to come so far, only to see that we have farther to go. As Damien said recently during an hour-long "Larry King Live" interview, "You know, the legal system, they like to drag things out as long as they possibly can. Like I say, I've been here almost 15 years now."
I want to write you a letter simply thanking you – from the bottom of our hearts – for your support and generosity that made it possible for us to uncover this new evidence. We are more grateful than you can ever know, yet we also need your help more than ever. We urgently need financial contributions to help pay for the legal work, investigation and organizing efforts that will correct this grave injustice once and for all. Please make a donation to the Defense Fund today.
Please make checks payable to:
Damien Echols Defense Fund
PO Box 1216
Little Rock, AR 72203
You can also donate online, through PayPal. It's easy, free and allows you to use your credit or debit card. We also suggest that International Supporters use this option. Please use LDavis11@hotmail.com as the recipient address and kindly include your name and address in the notes box. The button you can click to include your address does not always work.
Over the last several years – and particularly the last several months – we have been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of longtime friends and people just learning about the case. Shortly after we made the new evidence public, a group of supporters in Arkansas began organizing to put political pressure on the Governor, Attorney General and District Attorney. Thousands of people, many of them in Arkansas and Tennessee, came forward to demand that the new evidence be fully considered.
The message is clear: The public wants elected officials to respect the scientific evidence, and most people – even those who once believed that the West Memphis Three were guilty – believe that the case is an intolerable miscarriage of justice. In the months ahead, we will be expanding these organizing and public education efforts, just as we redouble our litigation strategy to exonerate Damien, Jessie and Jason.
Thank you for everything you have already done. Without your help, we would not be on the verge of finally securing justice. And thank you in advance for making a donation that will enable us to finally overturn these convictions and free Damien, Jessie and Jason.
Thanks very much,
and the Damien Echols Legal Team
Alice Whitman Leeds
Public Relations in the Public Interest
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Posted by Mara on Tuesday January 8, 2008
Jason and the warden
I visited Jason Baldwin in his new digs at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit a few weeks ago. It was great to see him, as always. But this visit came with a twist. We’d barely sat ourselves down in the hard plastic chairs in the concrete-block visitation room when in walks the warden, who also pulls up a chair and sits down.
I’ve known Warden David White for many years. As a long-time pro in the Arkansas Department of Correction, he’s had plenty of opportunity to answer media questions. Our past encounters were polite, if not always cordial. But this meeting was different. As Jason sat courteously by, White addressed himself to me and started talking about Jason and about the West Memphis case in general. He said Jason had been a fine inmate since arriving at his unit, and that he didn’t have to stay there. He said that after the investigation that had led to Jason’s being placed in the state’s Supermax facility, Jason had been cleared and sent to the Max, without any loss of class. In short, Jason could request to be sent to another unit, but had not. Jason nodded in assent. He said he was pretty satisfied where he was.
Then White said that a number of folks in the department had read my book. He said there’d been a lot of talk about the case since the announcement that DNA found at the site did not link to Jason, Damien or Jessie, but did match that of one of the stepfathers and his friend. It was a rather strange experience, having this friendly chat about the possibility that Jason was innocent while Jason sat there with us, wearing the prison whites that he has had to wear for almost 15 years.
In the end, the warden seemed to acknowledge the possibility that he was imprisoning an innocent man. Holding up his hands, White told me, “I don’t send them here. I just look after the ones the state tells me to take care of.”
With that, he said goodbye and let Jason and me resume our conversation. Jason was his usual cheerful self. We didn’t talk about much that was important, until the subject of Dustin McDaniel came up, and the attorney general’s comment that it might be two years before the state could come to a decision as to what to do about the increasingly ticklish West Memphis case. Suddenly, Jason became very serious. “I don’t know what would take them so long,” he said. “But I know one thing, and that is how long is too long to keep an innocent person in prison.” Here, he slammed his hand on the metal counter. “One minute!” he said. “One minute is too long to deny an innocent person his freedom.”
I drove back to Little Rock with two images playing on my mind. Jason’s passion on one hand and Warden White’s dispassionate hey-it’s-just-my-job congeniality on the other. What we supporters of the WM3 are trying to do is bring the passion of this to the cool marbled halls of state government. To his credit (and unless I misread him), White came closer to acknowledging the possibility of injustice in this case than any state official I know of. It’s time now for McDaniel and members of our tarnished court system to go the rest of the way: admitting the wrongs and setting about, without delay, to correct them.
On second thought, it’s not time. As Jason so clearly expressed it: it’s way past time.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Fear Fest Raising Money for the West Memphis Three
For those of you familiar with the sickening injustice done to the trio known as the West Memphis Three, chances are you’re familiar with the latest developments in their case. If you’re not, head over to the support page for the WM3 to catch up.
John Gray, Editor in Chief of Pit of Horror and the man behind out upcoming co-run convention, Fear Fest, has teamed with Tammy Adin, coordinator of the WM3 Awarness Day and Anje Vela, president of Music4Life, to put together a huge silent auction to benefit the West Memphis Three legal defense fund through Skeleton Key Auctions and other sources.
If you’re interested in contributing items to the auction, contact John Gray (here), Tammy Adin (here) or Anje Vela (here) and let them know you want to help! We’ll be taking contributions and raising awareness throughout the entire convention, running March 7th-9th, 2008 so be sure to take note and get educated!
- Johnny Butane
Your Mission, should you choose to accept it:
GET INVOLVED IN THE PLANNING AND MAKING THE ROCK FOR FREEDOM WEEKEND A SUCCESS!
We are in need of people, contacts, recommendations, etc in almost every aspect! No help is too little. Everyone can make this event a success!
WE NEED THE FOLLOWING:
WE WOULD LIKE THE FOLLOWING:
New Artwork for Promotions
Radio or TV personality to Endorse
Merchandise to Sell at Fundraiser w/ proceeds going to defense fund
If you think you fit into any of these categories, have a suggestion, etc - PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE! We need people to be getting on board NOW so we can make this a success and raise money for the WM3 to help get them free. This will be a fun event if it is a success and we really need to represent in the boys' home state!
I am not the coordinator, however, can put you in contact with her. Please either visit me at myspace.com/crazyferrets to message me or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also post a message on the WM3 ezBoard under the Arkansas thread in the Rock for Freedom section.
Much Love and Cheers to a Happy New Year!
Heather - Arkansas Rock for Freedom Weekend
**PLEASE FEEL FREE TO POST AND RE-POST**