(2008-04-15) The trial judge in the case of three men accused as teenagers of killing three West Memphis second graders said in an appeal hearing Tuesday almost 15 years after their convictions that he was "ready to get it over with."
Circuit Judge David Burnett began the brief hearing before five lawyers for Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley. Burnett said he would set aside three weeks to hear the appeal, most likely in September. Each defendant would have one week, he said.
"I want to wrap this up. It's been 15 years. I'm ready to get it over with one way or the other," Burnett told a packed courtroom. "I don't care what the outcome is. I just want the attorneys to do their business so I can do mine."
Burnett gave defense lawyers 45 days to file their pleadings and set an Aug. 20 hearing for lawyers to give him a status report.
None of the defendants, the so-called West Memphis Three who have a loyal following, were at the hearing.
Prosecutor Brent Davis, who successfully prosecuted the case against the three for the 1993 murders of Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, handled the hearing Tuesday, as well.
Security was noticeable at the Craighead County Courthouse Annex. Sheriff Jack McCann and several of his deputies scrutinized people as they waited for the proceeding to begin. Inside the small courtroom, supporters of the convicted men filled five wooden benches. Among them was Lorrie Davis, Echols' wife.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.