Friday, January 11, 2008
Letter from Lorri Davis
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