Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) Script

Woman over radio: Okay.

Woman: Where were these found, guys?

( mumbling )

Green one on the left side there, red one on the right side.

Man over radio: Two thirty-one.

Man #2 over radio: Two thirty-one.

( mechanical whirring )

Don't let nobody come up here.

Don't-- nobody in here.

( music playing )

( mumbling )


( helicopter whirring ) ( police siren )

Male reporter: The police in West Memphis, Arkansas, confirmed today that three young boys were brutally murdered.

The bodies of Weaver Elementary School second graders, Steven Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore, were pulled from a shallow creek earlier today.

There are rumors that the boys may have been sexually mutilated.

The police say that they do not yet have any suspects in the case.

The missing 8-year-old boys were discovered in an area known as Robin Hood Hills, a secluded patch of woods behind the Blue Beacon Truck Wash along Interstate 40 in West Memphis.

♪ Moon is full, never seems to change ♪

♪ Just labeled mentally deranged... ♪ Woman: Imagine all the evil that you could think of, to how someone could be murdered.

And that's how these three children died.

Man: No family should have to go through this.

Unfortunately, it's gonna happen again somewhere.

Another town.

It's gonna happen again, I'm sure.

Lot of bad people out there in the world.

Man #2: I don't know why these three little boys were murdered.

Did they see something they were not supposed to see?

Did they hear things they were not supposed to hear?

I-- I do not know that. I see no reason.

I-- I see no motive for why these three little boys were murdered.

Man: Live from KAIT-8 TV, good neighbors you can turn to for news, weather, and sports.

Tony Brooks, Diana Davis, Terry Wood, and Dick Clay.

This is KAIT-8 News.

Good evening, I'm Diana Davis.

And I'm Tony Brooks.

In a statement given to the police and obtained by a Memphis newspaper, 17-year-old Jessie Misskelley allegedly confesses to watching two other suspects choke, rape, and sexually mutilate three West Memphis second-graders.

Jenna Newton reports.

Jenna Newton: According to the published report, Misskelley told police he watched

18-year-old Damien Echols and 16-year-old Jason Baldwin brutalize the children with a club and a knife.

The report says Misskelley told police Echols and Baldwin raped one of the boys and sexually mutilated another as part of a cult ritual.

Misskelley is quoted as saying he did not take part in the rape and mutilation, but that he helped subdue one victim who tried to escape.

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

Man: Scale of one to 10, how solid do you think the case is?

Eleven.

( all clamoring, applauding )

Newton: It appears satanic worship may have played a role in the murders.

Since the very beginning of the investigation people all around West Memphis have come forward with stories of satanic cults.

Reverend Tommy Stacy's church is down the street from where the bodies were found.

One year ago, Damien Echols told the church's youth minister he had a pact with the devil, and he was going to hell.

( church bell rings )

Tommy Stacy: I do know that my youth director talked to Damien extensively at the revival that we had, and he told him that he could not be saved, that he could not give his heart to Jesus.

And my youth director then tried to get him to take a Bible.

And he made the statement that he could not take a Bible because if he did, the rest of them would get him.

In West Memphis, Jenna Newton, KAIT-8 Night News.

Christopher never hurt anybody.

He had a gentle, loving, and giving heart.

And they crucified him in those woods.

And they humiliated his little body.

They took his little manhood before he even knew what it was.

And I hate them for it.

I've never hated anybody in my life.

And I hate these three.

And the mothers that bore them. ( tapping table )

I can't imagine...

what was going through Michael's mind.

You know, was he... calling for me?

How long did they leave him there tied up on that ditch bank before they decided to kill him?

I mean, what were they doing to him?

Was his-- was he conscious or unconscious?

Did he watch the other two boys... get cut?

Moore: He was really being killed by real monsters.

( kids shouting )

( laughs ) God. On TV!

Man: Now. Pam, first of all, what is-- what are you holding in your hand there--

In my hand, it's Stevie's Boy Scout.

I got it back yesterday.

And I been wearing it around my head like this.

( chuckles )

Did he-- did he like scouting?

Oh, he loved it. He loved it, yeah.

He loved it.

Man #2: Do you blame yourself for this?

I have. I have. I've been, uh-- I've--

I have been on a guilt trip about it.

But... it wasn't my fault. I was at work.

Have you contemplated joining Stevie, um...

Have I thought-- ...before your natural--

Would I ever... Have you thought about suicide?

Have I? Oh.

Uh... suicide?

I've-- I've felt like dying, but not suicide, you know.

No, not suicide.

Do you feel that the people that did this were worshipping, uh-- Satan? Yes, I do.

Why?

Just look at the freaks.

I mean, just look at them.

They look like punks.

( music playing )


Well, Jessie told me he didn't do it.

Didn't have anything to do with it.

He wasn't there.

And I believe him. ( camera clicks )

I think the cops just can't find who done it... and they gotta put it on somebody.

I wanna tell the whole world my son is innocent because I know he is innocent. ( camera clicks )

I know where he was... ( camera clicks ) and I know he's innocent, and I wanna tell the world, and I want the world to know.

This boy is not capable of the crime that he has, uh, been arrested for.

I've seen him take a little kitten, and-- and love it just like you'd love a little baby.

( camera clicks ) It's like a nightmare, a nightmare that you can't wake up from.

Our son's innocent.

We intend to prove it.

John Mark Byers: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil."

And I'm not scared of the devil.

I gotta know who my comforter is.

"Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me."

And I thank you, Lord, for letting me be able to believe in that with all my heart.

I hope y'all really believe in your master the Satan, Sleuthfoot, devil himself, 'cause he's not gonna help you.

He's gonna laugh at you, mock at you, and torture you.

He didn't need your help, the devil's got all the devils he needs.

The good Lord said Lucifer and a third of the angels were cast from Heaven.

He didn't need them, but he took their mind, and he manipulated them.

And they prayed to Satan, and they prayed to the devil.

And they had their satanic worship services out here, and they had all types of wild homosexual orgies, I've been told.

Crazy things.

To me, this place as I stand is like hell on Earth.

Because I know that three babies were killed right out here where I stand.

I know my son was castrated, and possibly laid there on that bank and bled to death.

I know he was choked.

I know one boy's head was beat in beyond recognition.

I know one little boy was skinned almost like a animal.

Cut, had to shave his head, had all types of injuries to the head where they just kept beating, and pounding on them, and killing them, and killing them.

It's like they enjoyed it.

They killed them two or three times.

Jessie Misskelley Jr., Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, I hope your master the devil does take you soon.

I want you to meet him real soon.

And the day you die, I'm gonna praise God.

And I make you a promise, the day you die, every year on May 5th I'm gonna come to your graveside, I'm gonna spit on you, I'm gonna curse the day you were born, and I'm sure while I'm standing there, I'm gonna have to have other bodily functions let go upon your grave.

I promise you as God is my witness, I'll visit all three of your graves.

The statement Jessie made to the police is-- is a lie.

It's not true, you know.

I don't see why he would do something like that to another person.

I can see where they might think I was in a cult

'cause I wear Metallica T-shirts and stuff like that, but...

I know I didn't do nothing like that.

I couldn't kill an animal or a person.

I don't worship the devil or anything like that.

I worship God, you know, like everybody-- every normal person in this-- around here does.

I got a favorite pet. A pet iguana.

I've had it for a little over a year now.

I usually go fishing by myself, right in my backyard.

Just go out there and my pet cat would be out there.

His name's Charlie.

Whenever I catch a fish I just give it to him.

I didn't kill these three little boys.

I didn't kill those three little boys.

They were, like, under a lot of pressure.

They had to find somebody to lay this off on before people started losing their jobs.

And the public was getting real upset, saying the cops were incompetent, couldn't do their jobs, so they had to do something fast.

And we were, like, we were the obvious choice because we stood out from everybody else.

So it worked out to their advantage.

( metal locks slamming )

Daniel Stidham: No one's gonna be saying that you're stupid or that you're dumb--

( stutters ) or making fun of you, but the court's gonna be very interested in determining exactly at what level you are functioning.

How well you're able to read. How well you're able to write.

Things of that nature. Uh-huh.

That make sense? Mm-hmm.

Okay. So, if the court determines that-- that you are operating, below average, then there's a possibility that the court will not be allowed or the state will not be allowed to impose the death penalty against you.

Do you understand what that means? Yeah.

We've got about 10 weeks before the trial comes up in January.

Yeah. Are you looking forward to just having the trial?

( phone ringing ) A little bit, but not much.

( continues ringing )

( receiver clicks )

Hello. Woman: Operator, I have a collect call.

Your name, please? Misskelley: Jessie.

Will you pay? Yes, ma'am.

Thank you.

Hey, son. Misskelley: Hey.

How you doing? All right.

You doing all right? That's good.

I been doing all right.

But my hand still hurts. Your hand still hurts?

Yeah. Did you ever find out if it was broke or not?

No, I ain't found out. It-- I can move it.

But-- Well, if you can move it, it's not broke.

( stutters ) It just-- it hurts.

Well, if you can move it, it's not broke.

It's gonna hurt for a while

'cause you bruised it pretty good.

You just gotta learn not to hit them walls.

Hit somebody else.

Jack his jaw. Yeah.

There wasn't nobody in my room to hit.

Oh, okay. ( chuckles ) So I just hit the--

Well-- I didn't hit the wall, I hit the commode.

Hit the commode? Yeah, I hit it on the side.

Well, you can sure-- Didn't even put a dent in it, either.

( laughs ) That must be a hard commode, man.

I heard that.

What time y'all gonna come up?

I don't know. Y'all can come up anytime

'cause y'all be in here with me.

Jessie Sr.: Well, uh, we'll see you Saturday.

( clock ticking )

( car approaching )

David Burnett: They're gonna have to go through the metal detector when you come through the front door.

Every-- I want everybody to do that.

They've got that portable thing that they can bring from Little Rock, if you need it.

Like the airport deal.

But we couldn't afford no $3,000 metal detector, so what I planned on doing was using two portables at this door.

That's why I want all-- everybody outside of lawyers, and I want them to come through this door.

Yeah, there's a potential problem area with the-- the... the strong feelings of the family, and that's to be understood, so security, not only coming in and out of the courtroom

( stutters ) is a problem, but, uh, keeping the onlookers and the family, ( stutters ) and people segregated from-- from the-- the accused is another problem that you'll-- you'll have, Darwin.

My intention was to bring this boy in before-- long before court, and have him inside.

Stidham: Obviously, I'm very concerned about security, simply because the death threats and other things that have happened, but I don't wanna give the jury the impression, if we have 20 state troopers and 50 county deputies, and-- and it's gonna give the impression to the jury that my client is a very dangerous person, which he's not.

And I don't want the jury to-- to get the wrong impression, I don't want there to be such a circus in the courtroom with reporters and cameras, that the jury forgets about what they're here for, and that is to administer justice.

John Fogelman : We expect the proof's going to show that this defendant confessed, that he was not coerced, um...

The-- we do not contend that the proof's going to show that every word that came out of his mouth was the truth.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this statement that Mr. Misskelley gave the West Memphis Police Department is a false story.

The interrogation techniques that were deployed against Mr. Misskelley at the time of his statement on June the 3rd rendered him completely incapable.

It-- it broke his will.

They scared him beyond all measures.

The proof is going to show that this defendant was an accomplice to Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin in the commission of these horrifying murders, and we will ask you to return your verdict of guilty on three counts of capital murder.

( children yelling, dog barking )

Lee Rush: We don't know what the truth is, but when it really gets down to brass tacks... his daddy and I are gonna look him square in the eyes and say, "Son, did you do this?

Did-- was you even there?"

That's when we will believe.

Well, if he told me he did it... which I don't believe he did, but if he told me he did it... he'd have to do his time.

Suffer the consequences.

If he admits to this, he would be strictly on his own.

We wouldn't even send him a dollar for a pack of cigarettes.

No. No, you're wrong there. Yes, we would.

No, I would. No.

He's my son!

I'll send him money.

But he will have to do his time.

This is...

I wouldn't give him a nickel.

He's my son. Now, we could be talking about--

He's my flesh and blood. We could be talking about my son.

Well?

If my son did something that horrible, that-- no, I wouldn't give him a nickel.

Let him suffer. You can't turn your blood away.

I don't know how you say you could, and we're gonna have a problem over this.

But I know how it is being up there in jail without anything.

( chuckles ) Well, that's beside the point.

If he-- if he's guilty... if he's guilty of doing this to these little boys...

No. Well, he's not.

Well, I'm saying he's not, too, but... if he happens to be-- if it's proven... no.

Forget it, no.

No.

But I don't believe he did it.

I'll never believe he did it.

This is to Jessie Jr., today's his 18th birthday, and I haven't seen him, I don't know where to go see him at, and we'll sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

All: ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday, dear Jessie ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday, dear Jessie ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you. ♪ And don't smoke too much. ( laughing )

Woman: Now he's legal to get them, ain't he?

Jessie Sr.: Yeah, he's legal to smoke now.

( laughing )

Shelby Misskelley: I may not be his biological mother, but giving birth don't make a parent.

And I've had him since he was four.

And... it took me about a year to assure that little boy I was gonna be here for him.

He wouldn't wanna go to school.

He wouldn't wanna go outside and play because he afraid I wouldn't be here when-- when he come in.

And when he was in kindergarten if he happened to come in and I happened to not be where he could see me when he first come in, he'd be hysterical when I got to him.

And... I've always known that...

he was-- he had a problem.

And I... I've always been real protective of him.

Mom sent me this one.

"There are all sorts of sons.

Sons can be slouchy, sons can be sweet.

Sons can be grouchy."

It says, "Sons can be neat. Sons can be broke, sons can be well-to-do.

But no son could ever be loved more than you."

And it says, "Happy Birthday."

I cry a lot when I'm in here

'cause I miss my family and everything and... and I just cry a lot, you know?

After that I go to bed, try to sleep.

Alice Sanders: My name is Alice Sanders, my son was Antonio Sanders, and he got killed Halloween night 1990.

Brenda McLean: My name is Brenda McLean, and my brother was stabbed to death.

I'm Brenda East, and my son Robert, 23 at the time, was murdered in 1990.

My name's Ann Marlin.

My daughter was Sheila Elron Dixon.

She was murdered January the 12th of '91.

I'm Wanda Raymond.

My daughter was murdered June the 27th, we think, we're not sure.

They're calling it a crime of passion.

He not only throwed her out and let her lay two weeks, he poured acid on her to deteriorate her body.

I didn't have the pleasure of... telling my daughter good-bye.

Funeral was a closed casket.

This is what I had on the casket, and it's still very unreal to me.

When the telephone rings I expect it to be her.

My name's Todd Moore.

My son was Michael Moore. He was murdered along with...

Christopher Byers and Steven Branch, May 5th, 1993.

I cannot describe the pain... that my family has went through.

You know, they didn't just kill my son, they killed part of me.

They killed a part of my wife, our daughter.

I'm so frustrated because it seems like they have so much rights.

We have no rights.

Like, it had in the paper the other day, now taxpayers of Crittenden County are gonna have to buy them a suit, because they don't want them to go into court looking like what they are, criminals.

They're in jail. They should wear jail clothes.

Why do they need to have a nice suit bought by the county so they look presentable?

They don't want them in shackles and chains.

You know, these are not boys that murdered our kids.

You know, they stopped being boys, you know, when they planned this.

And, I hear--

I sit there and watch their parents and stuff coming out of court crying, talking about their son's rights.

What about our son's rights?

Where in the hell was his rights out on that ditch bank?

He had no rights.

He had the rights to be brutally murdered.

Be beat to death, a 8-year-old little boy. Where was his rights?

Diane: I'm Diane Moore, Michael Moore's mother.

Last week in-- in Flash Market, the Echols man was in there, staring me down.

Like it was my fault that I had a child that his child could murder.

We set in that big store, we seen the people that are supporting these people, that look at us like we're scum, and these other people are just... the greatest thing that they've ever known.

And now they wanna to have them all just dressed up, and act like little choirboys in court and...

Here you go, he didn't do anything wrong.

My son didn't do anything wrong, he's just a boy.

Fogelman : Now on June the 3rd, did you have a-- an assignment to locate a particular person?

My assignment was to contact Jessie Misskelley, Jr.

At that time was the defendant a suspect?

No, sir. If he was not a suspect why were you assigned to contact him?

He was a... a friend with-- friends with Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.

What if anything did he tell you, uh... during this conversation before the tape recording?

Okay, he had told us that he had attended some satanic-cult-type meetings, that boys along with girls would attend.

There would be sessions of sex, orgies as he called them.

Uh, that dogs and animals had been killed, and in fact those animals-- portions of them had been eaten by the members.

John: I believe as there's angels on Earth, I believe there's demons on Earth.

And I believe as angels try to help people, I believe demons try to possess and hurt people to do the devil's will.

Just how angels try to help people to do God's will.

( organ playing )

Man: ♪ O, worship the king ♪

♪ Of glorious above ♪

♪ And gratefully sing ♪

♪ His wonderful love ♪

♪ Our children... ♪ Man #2: At this time Mark is gonna sing a song entitled "Whatever It Takes," a beautiful song.

Y'all listen to him as he comes and shares.

Mark?

John: I believe the Lord's gonna direct me, guide me, and lead me.

And we're gonna give the glory to Him.

( music playing )

♪ There's a voice ♪

♪ Calling me ♪

♪ From an old rugged tree ♪

♪ And it whispers ♪

♪ "Draw closer ♪

♪ To Me ♪

♪ Leave this world ♪

♪ Far behind ♪

♪ There are no lights ♪

♪ To blind ♪

♪ And a new place ♪

♪ That may you ♪

♪ Will find" ♪

♪ For whatever ♪

♪ It takes ♪

♪ To draw closer ♪

♪ To You, Lord ♪

♪ That's what ♪

♪ I'll be willing ♪

♪ To do ♪

♪ For whatever ♪

♪ It takes ♪

♪ To be more ♪

♪ Like You ♪

♪ That's what ♪

♪ I'll be willing ♪

♪ To do ♪

♪ I'll take sunshine... ♪ There's no doubt in your mind that at about 5:30 pm, Jessie was sitting--

He was sitting right down here.

I had seen the police over there twice.

I'd also seen little Jessie over there, and they had talked to him, and he was talking to me.

Police officer talked to him? Yes, sir.

They had to find somebody to pin this on.

This publicity was getting out of hand.

Stidham: Could you ask those folks inside to step out for just a second?

Um, I know that I've talked to-- to each of you, if not directly, indirectly.

We need to be very, very careful about who we talk to with regard to the media involved in this case.

There are several members of the media who apparently have no ethics, and have decided that they're gonna do everything they can to dig up mud and sling mud.

It's not gonna do anything but hurt Jessie and his chances of receiving a fair trial.

You as-- as friends of Jessie and relatives of Jessie, are prime targets for these members of the press, and if we just remember the one rule is, don't talk to anybody and then we won't have to worry about it.

Does that make sense?

So, again I caution you not to talk to anybody in the press, 'cause it's just gonna hurt us. Thanks.

♪ Grace ♪

♪ For my will ♪

♪ To break ♪

♪ That's what ♪

♪ I'll be willing ♪

♪ To do ♪

♪ That's what ♪

♪ I'll be willing ♪

♪ To do. ♪

Man: Amen.

John: Eat it up.

You know, one thing I like about this right here black powder gun... is they can't pull any type of ballistics on it.

If by some chance you was to shoot something with it, every bullet rifles through the chamber just a little bit different.

So, they just can't pull no ballistics off this.

There's a few people I wouldn't mind going on shooting with it, but... hopefully the courts and the justice system take care of them, but... they reach prison, they gonna get took care of.

I told Todd I could save the state a lot of money.

If they'd just let me line them three son of a guns up.

I'd say, "This one here's for you, Jessie."

We gonna go for the jug of water.

( gunshot )

Oh, Jessie, I done blowed you half in two, son. ( Todd chuckles )

( gun clicking )

Now this one here's for you, Damien.

You that black circle right in the middle.

( gunshot )

Oh, you've got hurt. ( Todd chuckles )

Damn. That sure looked painful, didn't it?

Yeah, hey, Jason?

I want you to smile and blow me a kiss for this one.

Now let's go back to Jessie.

I just wounded him, I want him to bleed a little bit like he made my baby bleed.

Oh, Jessie.

You know, that breaks my heart thinking about that scum.

'Cause this right here's all that needs to be done to him, just shot slowly.

With a real nice firearm, and it ain't got no consideration or no feeling of who it's aiming at, just like they didn't care about killing my baby.

I'd be happy lining them up.

I wouldn't have had no problem with it.

I think old Jessie's still kicking a little.

Y'all go ahead and put him out of his misery.

What kind of-- what kind of range we got in the courtroom?

Ah, probably about 10-foot right here.

Go ahead and waste old Jessie.

I don't see that to being much of a problem.

No.

'Cause I can just see the scum.

That's good.

Go ahead, he's wiggling.

All right. Oh, I could live with that.

( gunshots )

( thuds )

Fogelman : During the course of these conversations, was anything shown to the defendant?

Yes, sir. All right, and what was shown to him?

Okay, there was a picture that Inspector Gitchell showed him.

Okay. And what was that picture of?

One of the victims.

When I showed Jessie this photograph, he-- he took it into his hand, and he just-- he just went back in his chair like this.

And-- and he just locked in on it, fixed in on the photograph and just kept staring at it and staring at it.

Initially, Mr. Misskelley denied any involvement whatsoever in this, didn't he? Yes, sir, he did.

Officer Ridge, the photograph that was just introduced into evidence depicting one of the boys' bodies, that was shown to Jessie? Yes, sir.

And this was immediately prior to him admitting and telling you this story about being present when the boys were killed?

Shortly before, yes, sir.

Why did you guys do that?

There had to be a reason to do that.

There are times when Jessie would not be talking, he's-- he's getting slower with information, he's-- he's telling us things that are just-- it's over and over the same thing.

Those techniques are used to evoke a response.

You and Inspector Gitchell did these things to invoke a response.

Yes, sir. Invoke a confession.

Invoke a response to keep him talking.

Did it ever occur to you that Mr. Misskelley has a mental handicap?

No, sir, it didn't to me on that day.

Do you have any special training dealing with people with mental handicaps? No, sir.

Did it ever occur to you that-- that this was gonna scare him, showing a picture of a body?

( sighs ) That it would scare him?

I don't know, I-- I guess he's scared into making a statement, yes, sir.

Misskelley: I-- I'm getting nervous every day.

Why? Why?

Oh. Why?

Okay. That's a stupid question.

Okay. Boy, I can barely hold this phone.

Boy, it's-- it's getting closer and closer and closer.

I know. I ju-- I don't wanna even think about it.

I can imagine what they gonna go to me. I can imagine.

But I'm not gonna think that, though.

Think good thoughts, okay, while I'm on the phone.

Huh?

Talk-- talk about something good while I'm on the phone.

Hey! Yeah?

You're supposed to be talking to me, not your friends.

Well, he's talking about something else.

These people make me mad.

You know it? Uh-huh.

They-- they get to go out and screw people, and I can't.

Oh. ( chuckles )

Well, y'all do. But I can't do that.

Well, you will later. I will later?

Mm-hmm. How do you know?

I mean, if I can get out we will... I know that.

...but if I don't get out, we won't.

What I was gonna ask you, that last-- that Sunday.

Uh-huh. That I had--

I dreamed about you. Uh-huh.

You won't believe what I was dreaming.

( stutters ) It freaked me out. Wanna hear it? Huh?

Yeah. We was-- we was having sex, all right? Okay.

We went to-- we went to a bathroom, we had sex.

We-- when I was going somewhere going-- going out the front door, we had sex right there.

We done it out in the yard, in front of everybody, and it freaked me out.

I woke up, boy, I was sweating bad.

Man, I hope that dream come true quick.

What are you gonna do when you get off the phone?

Sneak back home. Go back home?

Uh-huh. I'm gonna go back home, too, when I get off the phone.

I wish you could. Huh?

I wish you could. Yeah.

Well, my time's up, okay? Okay.

I gotta go, okay? Okay.

Love you. I love you, too.

Bye-bye. ( phone clicks )

( Christmas music playing )


Can you get it in there all?

Yeah.

( clicks )

( sniffling )

( clicks )

I think those two oughta do fine.

Yeah, I'm sure they will, babe.

Yeah, this one's good, this one came out.

Okay.

( sighs )

John: Big difference from any other Christmas.

Be one we'll never forget.

Byers: Yeah, I know, it's the first one without him.

( sighs )

Wish you could've been here to hear me sing lately.

He liked to hear me sing.

( sniffles )

Well, I think his little Christmas tree, it'll stay there real well.

It's in there tight enough.

I don't think the wind will blow it over or anything.

Come here and kneel down here by me.

Oh, God, why did you let this happen?

Please help us through it.

God, please help us through this.

Ridge: This is a enlarged photograph of the crime scene.

This is the ditch where the bodies were found.

Michael Moore was found in this area right here at the bottom of the screen.

Steve Branch was found just-- just behind where these trees are in the stream.

And Christopher Byers was found just below that body right here.

This is Exhibit 22, which is the body of Michael Moore... ( woman gasps )

...after removing him from the water, the way he was found.

This is the body of Steve Branch.

Steve Branch is the young man that had the-- the injuries to his face.

Fogelman : Is it a particular part of his face?

Ridge: On the left side and down here.

State's Exhibit 24, the body of Christopher Byers.

And what kind of injuries did Chris Byers have, that you observed?

It looked as though his penis had been removed.

( crying )

( cameras snapping )

Could you see the pictures from where you were sitting?

Yeah, that's why I had to leave.

Why? Because al-- always along with seeing my little boy the way he was, I'll always have that picture of what he looked like... in my mind.

But you never knew until now.

You were worried early on that, that-- and you said early on, that you really didn't wanna know, but now you're hearing it.

Is it a lot harder than what you thought it was going to be, to hear this?

It's a whole lot harder than I thought it would be.

It's like going back to May 5th and reliving it all over again.

( tape recorder clicks )


Stidham: Inspector Gitchell, let's talk about the things that-- that Jessie told you that are just absolutely incorrect.

Now, on page nine of his statement, Inspector Gitchell, Jessie says that the murders took place around noon.

How did you know that was incorrect?

Because the boys were-- the young boys were still in school.

Did at any time when he was telling you these things that you knew were incorrect, did it ever occur to you that what he was telling you was false?

His entire story was false?

In Jessie's case, I feel like he did tell us a good bit of the truth, but then they also lessen their activity in a statement.

That's just common.

At least in my 20 years' career--

Is it common for the police to simply ignore these big obvious problems and just assume that if everything else that he's telling you has gotta be correct?

Jessie simply got confused.

Stidham: You and I can tell the cops that we know what our rights are and, uh, basically go to hell.

We're not gonna sit here and take this and walk out.

Jessie Misskelley has no concept of being able to leave a police station.

I mean, the only thing that the prosecution has-- has put on against Jessie is this wild story that he told the police.

And I hope that the fact that there's no physical evidence linking him to the crime scene is-- is gonna have a lot of impact on the jury.

And we're talking about reasonable doubt, uh--

But-- but I think you need to deal with the lack of physical evidence.

Not just-- not-- not to just let them get away with the fact that they were in the water and it all washed away.

A crime scene that clean has to be purposefully planned-- done that way, okay?

( stutters ) The fact that it looked washed down was not just happenstance.

Right, okay. Okay? ( stuttering )

That is probably something like you said we can, maybe--

( stutters ) Somebody intentionally, purposefully... with great cunning and intelligence... tried to get a-- get rid of... every spot of blood, semen, mud, footprint-- anything that may have been there, they purposefully tried to get rid of all that.

An 18, a 17, and a 16-year-old kid don't pull this off, no.

Lot of-- I think there's a lot of professional killers who don't leave it this clean, you know?

I really do believe that if the jury hears what lust serial killers are like, and what they do, and how they leave crime scenes-- with the missing evidence, the souvenirs.

I have no doubt where there's a serial killer running around that-- that did these murders.

I have no doubt, hell, he may be in Idaho now but, I mean, I'm-- I don't have any doubt about it, you know?

You know, it is somebody who knew what they were doing, had done it before, and probably has done it since then or-- or will definitely do it again.

Are you aware of any personality traits of people who are likely to possibly confess?

Low IQ.

Highly suggestible.

Always attempting to solve the immediate stress factor.

Get the interrogators off my back and just let me go home.

Naively assumes that they can all straighten it out later on.

It's extremely difficult for the average person to believe... that someone would confess to a crime they didn't do.

And what I didn't like about this confession is that most of it emanated from questions right off the bat, without-- without any narrative of any-- any length at all.

Without any descriptions about feelings, or conversations or anything.

I-- I just don't understand if he was in fact involved in this crime, how he made a mistake on the time factor.

And the thing that really bothers me is the ligature-- what was used to tie up the-- the victims.

Now, he certainly knows the difference between, uh, shoelaces and a rope.

That should have been a-- a signal that something was radically wrong.

That's when the questions should have been more probing to determine whether or not he was making it up or giving a valid confession.

Fogelman : Out of the hundred or more people that y'all talked to, are you aware of anybody other than the defendant who told you one of the victims that had their genitals removed, and one of them had cuts to the side of the face, and there'd been some grabbing of the ears?

Uh, there was no one else that mentioned those particular injuries, and you yourself, Mr. Fogelman, you're pointing to the wrong side of the cheek.

Oh. ( all laughing )

Was there any kind of emotional response?

He had tears coming down his eyes.

Right. Had y'all yelled at him, or been mean to him or...

No, sir. ...threatened him, or promised him anything?

Done any of those things?

None of those things happened whatsoever.

All right.

( squawking )

( signal crossing honking, clanging )

Dr. Ofshe, could you give us some examples of-- of the police being coercive, leading or suggestive during the course of the interrogation? Ofshe: Yes, I can.

Perhaps the most powerful example, in my opinion, is the example of the eight revisiting of the question of the time at which the killings occurred.

The first example occurs on page three.

Detective Ridge says, "All right, when did you go with them?"

Mr. Misskelley says, "That morning."

Detective Ridge asks, "I'm not saying when they called you, I'm saying what time was it that you were actually there in the park."

Mr. Misskelley says, "About noon."

Detective Ridge now says, "Okay, was it after school had let out?"

This is immediately after Jessie saying it's at noon.

He's now suggesting it must be later by saying is it after school let out.

Jessie says, "Yes."

Detective Ridge follows up with his victory on page 24.

And this time Detective Ridge says, and I quote, "Okay, the night you were in the woods, had you all been in the water?"

Jessie replies, "Yeah, we've been in the water.

We were in it that night playing around in it."

This is the first time in the record that it is directly suggested to Jessie that the correct answer is this happened at night.

Immediately upon that being suggested, Jessie is-- responds by accepting, and now he starts to use the word at night, where he had never used it before.

That is an influence tactic.

It is a way of getting someone to accept something out of pressure and out of suggestion.

But that's one example.

There are many other examples of manipulation on important points throughout this record.

Brent Davis: Mr. Ofshe, is your going rate approximately $300 an hour?

No, that's not. What is it?

My rate is $150 an hour for consultation, and $300 an hour for time spent in court or in deposition.

So, if you're initially asked to evaluate a case, you don't get the-- the $300 an hour unless you give an opinion that's consistent with what the person asked you wants to hear.

If they don't call you as a witness, you don't get your $300 an hour, correct?

Incorrect.

I don't know what the terminology is in Berkeley, California, but when the defendant identified who it was who was castrated, when he indicated that one of the boys was cut in the face, you don't know, and you can't give an opinion that any of those questions were coercive in nature, can you?

No, I can't, because the record that we are dealing with is very incomplete because this part of the record is preceded, as everyone agrees, by over two hours of interrogation in which many subjects were discussed, for which we have no record.

( music playing )

( music continues )


♪ Welcome to where time stands still ♪

♪ No one leaves and no one will ♪

♪ Moon is full, never seems to change ♪

♪ Just labeled mentally... ♪

( police siren )

( radio chatter )

♪ ...freedom in my sight ♪

♪ No locked doors, no windows to find ♪

♪ No things to make my brain seemed scarred ♪

♪ Sleep, my friend, and you will see ♪

♪ The dream is my reality ♪

♪ They keep me locked up in this cage ♪

♪ Can't they see it's why my brain says rage? ♪

♪ Sanitarium. ♪ Stidham: Jessie Misskelley didn't tell the police anything that they didn't already know.

They led him through this entire taped statement, and ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we don't know what happened before they turned the tape recorder on.

They didn't videotape it.

The officers didn't take notes on all the questions, they testified to that.

They even testified they couldn't remember some of the things they asked him.

How do we know what really happened?

The defense, through bringing in so-called experts such as Mr. Ofshe, have tried through smoke and mirrors to make it sound like a person that confesses to such a heinous crime and admits their involvement and gives you specific details in the involvement, that's indicative of someone who was forced or coerced to confess.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client, little Jessie Misskelley, is an innocent man.

He's innocent.

And I would ask you to go back to that jury room and bring back a verdict that rings of justice.

Truth and justice.

And I would ask you to bring back a verdict that you can live with for the rest of your life.

Davis: See this picture? This is-- this is the Moore boy.

This defendant won't look up, he won't look at you.

But this defendant's actions, and you just think about it.

If this defendant does not chase down Michael Moore... if he does not run through the woods, and chase him down, and bring him back...

Michael Moore lives.

Michael Moore gets to go home at night, his parents get to be with him.

But because of this defendant's actions, because of what Jessie Misskelley. Jr. did, Michael Moore's dead, Stevie Branch is dead, Chris Byers is dead, and there's no getting around it.

I think when you go back, and you apply your common sense, and you do what's right, and you think about the evidence in this case, you're gonna know that what the evidence shows is that this defendant ran down Michael Moore.

That this defendant was there.

He was involved, and he's guilty of three counts of capital murder.

Three, two, one.

The jury went out at 4:20 this afternoon.

They'll decide if Jessie Misskelley is guilty in the deaths of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Steven Branch.

Misskelley is charged with capital murder, and if guilty, could get the death penalty.

Two other teenagers charged in the crime will be tried later this month in Jonesboro.

In Corning, Wade Hoffman, ARN News.

Short, but sweet.

Shelby: I'm gonna go get you something to twitch your nose, and make them come back with a not-guilty verdict, can't you?

If I could twitch my nose and do that, I'd have been gone a long time ago. We've been praying to God.

Just bow your head.

There's still hope. That's right.

Misskelley: I'm not giving up, though.

All: No, no, no, no, no.

Don't ever. Don't give up-- and don't get in there and get mad and go off.

There's always hope.

They tell me, "How come he always keeps his head down?"

Because I was told to keep my head down.

That's right. That's right.

Shelby: If you'd raised up and looked around, then they would be saying something else, so it really don't matter. Don't let it bother you.

They're gonna-- they're gonna-- ( coughs )

That's like they're saying about Damien.

On which station? They making remarks--

Damien's a good kid. That's what it was--

I guess, I don't know-- Shelby: I don't know Damien.

I didn't realize how much I loved him until this.

I always loved him, but this is just-- Well, thanks a lot!

I mean, no, I always loved you, I'm just saying I didn't realize how much.

You're coming home.

Gotta get out of here.

Just say a prayer when the jury comes out. You're fine.

Oh, I will. I'll say one right now.

'Cause we'll be sitting there saying one for you.

Hopefully I'm going home tonight.

We sure hope so. We hope we can carry you home.

( chatter )

It's getting kind of hard with you guys--

( both chattering )

( mumbles ) But you got it? You wanted the controller.

Burnett: All right, ladies and gentlemen, I-- I-- in the audience, I am acutely aware that your feelings are on edge, that there's a great deal of emotion involved, but the court cannot tolerate, and will not tolerate any verbal outburst, any display of emotion whatsoever.

And I-- I recognize that that's difficult, and that's why I'm warning you in advance.

The verdicts read as follows.

"We the jury find Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr. guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Moore.

We the jury find Jesse Lloyd Misskelley, Jr. guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Stevie Branch.

We the jury find Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr. guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Chris Byers.

Signed by T.J. Williams, foreman.

All right, Mr. Misskelley, if you could come around to the front here, and Dan, and...

All right, Mr. Misskelley, did you hear the-- the jury's finding, and the reading of the verdict in your case?

Misskelley: Yes, sir.

Do you have any legal reason or cause to tell the court why sentence should not be imposed at this time?

( mumbles )

You'll have to an-- I heard you, but you need to answer out a little bit louder.

No, sir. All right.

Um, is there anything you wanna say before sentence is imposed?

You have a right to-- to make any statement that you care to at this time.

No, sir.

Are you satisfied with the service and advice of your attorneys through this trial?

Yes, sir. All right.

All right, based upon the jury's verdict finding you guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Moore, you'll be sentenced to the Arkansas Department of Corrections for a term of life.

In the count involving the death of Steven Branch, the jury having found you guilty of second-degree murder, you'll be sentenced to an additional term of 20 years.

And in regard to the death of Christopher Byers, the jury having found you guilty of second-degree murder, you'll be sentenced to an additional term of 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

That is you will receive a life sentence plus 40 years.

It's hard to think of if how... it would have gone any other way but you never can tell with a jury of 12, and they could have found a verdict of not guilty, and, uh, we had to sit there and tell ourselves, "God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

So, we had to be willing to accept what happened, and thankfully the verdict went our way.

Well, listen, there must be mixed emotions because you have the guilty verdict, but you-- you still have the loss to deal with.

This doesn't change anything.

John: Our son was still murdered-- Christopher's dead.

Our son is still dead. And he was tortured to death by three murdering bastards on a ditch bank.

He was eight years old.

And guilty is guilty, and I hope the little sucker, when he hits Cummins, they get his ass right off the bat!

Because he deserves to be tortured and punished for the rest of his life for murdering three eight-year-old children!

Man: Jessie, how come you kept your head down the whole time?

Woman: Jessie, you held your head down through most of the trial.

Anything you wanna say now?

Man: Did you do it, Jessie?

( indistinct questions )

Say, get that back, get a hold of him.

Woman #2: Did you do it, Jessie?

Woman: Jessie, do you have anything to say?

No. How are you feeling right now?

Man: Jessie, what did you say?

Nope.

( engine starting )

Prison's not a safe place.

Jessie, sweetie.

I'm gonna mail him a skirt.

One down, two to go.

Hopefully the same thing will happen to the next two, and we'll get the same verdict.

They found my son's testicles in a jar of alcohol in Damien Echols' house with his fingerprints on the jar.

Now, how do you dispute that?

Some idiot started a rumor saying that they found, um...

children's sexual parts under my bed or in my house, and...

There was no body parts in my house or...

It's just-- I think maybe the police had something to do with it, just...

'cause how-- if they can make us look bad in front of the public then people are gonna kind of have their minds made up before anything ever comes out.

What we want to talk to you about is all the stuff in the paper about a deal with Jessie.

We-- right now we don't know what his situation is, although we think that he is more inclined to testify right now than he has been at any point up to now.

The Friday that Jessie was convicted, they questioned him.

The officers who took him down inquired of him what had really happened, and apparently Jessie, contrary to somebody that was innocent that would say things like, "Gee, I've just been convicted and I didn't do it and what a terrible injustice."

Jessie talked all the way down there about how he committed the crime in specific details.

Unfortunately, we need his testimony real bad.

If it was a perfect world, you know, we would take what we have on Jessie and leave it, and we'd go and get the other two.

And get them and be happy, but it's not.

And, uh... we need his testimony to be sure we get convictions on the other two.

I think we're gonna negotiate his sentence down some in order to get him to testify.

He's not gonna, you know, testify just out of the goodness of his heart.

The only way that I think that he will be willing to testify is if the life sentence is removed.

Now, I do wanna say all is not lost if he doesn't testify, but the odds are reduced significantly.

Uh, we've still got some evidence.

What we've got, besides Jessie--

( clears throat ) is we've got a-- a fiber that was found on, um-- it was found on Stevie's shirt, that matched a fiber from Jason Baldwin's mother, which is called secondary transfer.

We've got a fiber from a-- a shirt-- or a couple of fibers from a shirt found at Echols' house, found, um-- one of them was on, like, the Cub Scout--

Michael's Cub Scout cap, another one maybe on the shirt, that matched Damien's.

Fiber evidence it's-- it's-- in my opinion, it's better than hair evidence, but they can't say that it came from that particular garment to the exclusion of all others.

We've got the Hollingsworth clan that says they saw Damien and Domini out on the service road.

We've got some, um... kids that say that Damien at a-- they heard him at a girls' softball game, overheard him say that he killed the three boys, and that he was gonna kill two more before he turned himself in.

And-- Man: They haven't scared them off yet like they did the other ones?

Well, no, not yet. ( Davis mumbles )

( woman coughs ) And we've got a guy that was in jail with Jason, who says that Jason made some incriminating statements to him.

Now, there are some things that they will-- are gonna try to do to attack this kid's credibility, but, um-- oh, and then we got the knife that was found in a lake behind Jason's house.

So, that's what we've got but that's all, basically that we've got.

And you asked what the odds were of convicting them without Jessie, and it's, you know, 50-50 might be-- might be good.

Paul Ford: The only way he'll come up there, and sit down in that witness chair and testify is if they cut him a sweet deal.

You take all the things that are wrong with his statement, and then add to the-- add to that recipe mix, that, "I'm talking now because I got a sweet deal, and I'm not gonna--

I'm gonna get out in 10 years."

Hypothetical. "I may get out in 10 years."

Well, heck yeah, who wouldn't sing?

You know what I'm saying? So he-- then he-- then his evidence, his statement, his whole thing looks bad, and that's-- if that's their best evidence, and trust me it is, if they can't use that statement against you, they got nothing.

And this dog and pony show is over.

Good morning. How you doing?

Man: Morning. Good morning.

Man #2: Are the rumors false about Jessie turning state's evidence? Yes.

Good morning. Is it true that Jessie's going to testify against Damien and Jason?

It's false.

I just left Jessie at the jail, and he told me that he was not gonna testify.

He didn't wanna get up there and lie, uh, that the officers have been working on him real hard, but, uh, but he wasn't gonna listen to them and this was-- his decision was final.

But he can always change his mind again.

I-- you know, he has.

He's a very confused and scared kid, and-- and the officers have scared him to death.

Shelby: Yeah, they have.

Well, I told him last night, I said, "Jessie, if you get up there and lie, I'm gonna be in that courtroom.

And you're gonna have to sit there and tell that lie when you know that I'm sitting there listening to you, when you know I know the truth that you are lying."

( cameras clicking )

Woman: Damien, are you in a cult? Are you in a cult, Damien?

Man: Damien, are you worried about Jessie testifying against you?

Not in the least. ( clamoring )

Fogelman : In looking at young people involved in the occult, do you see any particular type of dress?

I have personally observed people wearing, black fingernails, having their hair painted black, wearing black T-shirts.

Sometimes they will tattoo themselves.

Fogelman : Do you have an opinion as to whether or not there are occult overtones or evidence of occult involvement in these particular murders?

Well, the date being close to Beltane...

What is that? All right. ...a holiday, May 1st.

Also, the day before that is Walpurgisnacht.

Then you go into the fact that some groups of occult-- cult groups or-- or-- will use a full moon.

In several occult books, they will talk about the life force of the blood.

Usually the younger the individual, the more pure it is, the more power or the force it has.

A lot of times they will take blood, and store it for other services and other use, as well as consume it or bathe in it.

Now, the... the items drawn on the front, what is that?

That is a-- that is a pentagram.

That happens to be a Wiccan, or-- or white witchcraft pentagram.

All right, now if you would open, the book to the front page.

Yes, sir. All right.

Now... explain what that is.

That's confusion to me. All right.

And the reason why we got a-- a white witchcraft...

Wiccan pentagram, then we have upside down crosses, which comes from another type of occultism.

What type of occultism do the upside down crosses-- That's black witchcraft.

Is it Wicca, Satanism, or both?

Both. Okay.

And did you notice anything in particular, about the book?

There's a chapter in here called "Rise of the Devil," and, uh... it is underlined in red, and there-- there's a couple sentences in there, reference to, uh, blood, and its life force.

How-- how were you accepted into enrollment at Columbia Pacific University?

I had to fill out a-- and several series of papers including all my education, background, experience.

Did you ever fill out a little flier like this?

No, sir. That says, "Call toll-free for information on how to become a doctor."

This is a mail order college, isn't it?

What classes did you take between 1980 and 1982 to obtain your master's degree?

What cl-- What classes?

I testified-- I'm asking what classes.

What classes did you take?

I told you-- I answered that before, none.

You did not take any classes.

Between 1982 and 1984 when you became a Ph.D., what classes did you take?

None. None. Okay.

Is it your opinion, and do you want to tell this jury... that these crimes were motivated by occult beliefs?

Yes.

Hutchison: We're not trash, by no means.

My son was born in West Memphis, he was raised in West Memphis, and for the life of me I cannot understand why people has got this bad image of him.

So what if he wore a black trench coat.

He's not the only one that does.

You know, so what if he wore black T-shirts, black pants.

Johnny Cash wears black, doesn't he?

Pam Echols: Well, I wear black.

Michelle wears black.

Domini wears black-- Michelle: ...wears black. ( laughs )

It's-- we're all just partial to black, I guess.

I like black myself.

And I'm by no means no devil worshipper, nor is he.

He was going to school, he wanted to go to school to be a priest.

He was faithful in the church, and he looked into a little bit of Wicca, but he-- he never went to it, and I think if people looked into what-- to what Wicca is, they would understand it a little better.

The only thing Wiccans do is worship the earth.

Echols: People probably think that I'm in Satanism because usually what people don't understand they try to destroy.

Or ridicule.

Try to make it look bad or wrong.

West Memphis is pretty much like second Salem, right now.

Because everything that happens there, every crime no matter what it is, it's blamed on Satanism.

Burnett: He's been previously sworn.

Val Price: Yes, sir, that's correct.

Please state your name for the court.

Damien Wayne Echols.

Why did you change your name?

I was very involved in the Catholic church, and we were going over different names of the saints.

St. Michael's was where I went to church in, and we heard about this guy from the Hawaiian Is--

Hawaiian Islands, Father Damien, that took care of lepers, until he finally caught the disease himself and died.

All right, was that the reason you chose Damien as your first name?

Yes, it is. Okay.

Did the choosing of the name Damien have anything to do with any type of horror movies, Satanism, cultism, any of that nature?

Nothing whatsoever. Okay.

All right, after the time period that you were really into the Catholic religion, did you start focusing on another particular religion?

Wicca. Wicca. All right.

Could you explain to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what-- some principles about the Wicca religion?

Um... it acknowledges a goddess in a higher regard as a god, because people have always said we're all God's children, and men cannot have children.

Um... it's basically like a close involvement with nature.

Is there a difference between the Wicca religion and witchcraft?

Wicca is also called witchcraft.

The word Wicca was bastardized, it originally meant "wise one."

Did the fact that you like to wear all black all the time-- were you different in-- in other ways as well?

Yes, I've never had a lot of the same interests that other people have, like sports, things like that.

I've never been into anything like that.

Okay. Did it-- did it help you deal with other people, to have people kind of standoffish and sort of back away from you?

Yeah, it would make--

It was like a defense mechanism.

It would make people think, like, "Well, he's weird, I'm not gonna go around him."

So, it kept people away.

The state had introduced a book, Never On A Broomstick.

Are you familiar with that particular book?

Yes, I am. All right, were did you get that book, Damien?

At the library in Crittenden County.

All the books that they were getting tired of or had for a long time, I guess, they all had them sitting on a rack out front that they were selling for 10 cents each, so I got it.

All right, did you underline any of those portions in the book?

No, that was done when I got it.

I think it was because somebody had a report to do or something, because all during the book there's, like, little notes, certain dates and stuff, like, from the 1600s in the outside margin.

So, was that book kind of like a history of-- of witchcraft, and how it's developed... Yes.

...over the ages? Okay. Yes.

Are you familiar with the contents of that notebook?

Yes, I am.

I noticed on the inside of the front cover there, there appears to be a couple of quotes there-- Yes.

Could you, uh, read each of those to the jury and then tell them where that came from?

"Life is but a walking shadow.

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound, and fury, signifying nothing."

That's from A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare.

Um, "Pure black looking clear, my work is soon done here.

Try getting back from me, that which used to be."

That is off a Metallica tape called Injustice for All.

Talks about how warped the court systems are and stuff like that.

On May the 5th, did you kill Michael Moore?

No, I did not.

On May the 5th, did you kill Stevie Branch?

No, I did not.

On May the 5th, did you kill Chris Byers?

No, I did not.

Have you ever participated in any type of human sacrifice?

No, I have not.

19-year-old Damien Echols admits he stands out in a crowd.

He says he loves heavy metal music, likes--

( chuckles ) Shorten it a bit.

"Practices the Wicca religion."

Three, two... one.

19-year-old Damien Echols says he's--

Three, two... one.

19-year-old Damien Echols admits he stands out in a crowd.

He says he likes to wear black most of the time, practices the Wicca religion, and loves heavy metal music, but he says he's definitely not a killer.

( car horn blares )

Hobbs: I believe they did it, and if they were to be set free on the street, then they would have to look behind their back-- watch behind their back to see if Pam Hobbs went and followed them.

Because I'm just saying this as a human, you know...

I-- I would, I believe I'd try and kill them, too, if they ever walk the street and I'm still alive.

I believe I'd be stalking them.

To do to them...

Probably shoot them and then cut them up.

Marie Hicks: When I was down at the courtroom, and Damien walked past me, I wanted to just go over there and take my hand and just claw down his face, inflict any kind of pain that I can inflict on him.

I know eventually we're going to have to forgive him, I know that and I understand that, but when it happens in your home, and you watch your wife lose her mind-- you know, whatever happened to her.

Your home is tore apart, busted up.

I don't feel it's fair right now for someone to ask me to forgive the ones that caused it.

( stutters ) It'd take some time, a long time before I could forgive them.

Jackie Hicks: You-- you say that it's gonna take time.

We don't know how much time we got.

Pam, we wouldn't be able to see Stevie again.

We have to forgive in our heart because the Lord... forgave us.

He forgave us, He shedded His blood for us.

He shedded his blood for them.

And-- he just-- just asked us to have a... a-- a forgiving spirit.

And I refuse to serve sin and Satan.

Because I'm gonna see Stevie again.

I'm gonna be with Stevie again.

I'm gonna be with my mother again.

I'm gonna be with her mother, your grandmother, both of them.

I'm gonna be with all of my loved ones that have passed on and went to Heaven.


( sobbing )

Man: If you could speak to the families of these-- these kids, who think you did it, you know, what would you say to them?

I don't know.

Echols: Jason was my best friend.

We did about everything together.

It was kind of like we even lived together most of the time, stayed at each other's houses, wore each other's clothes.

It was more like we were brothers.

We used to go out and snake hunt all the time.

Snakes and music were, like, about our whole life, really.

We lis-- we were, like, all the time, looking for new groups that we would like or something.

Our favorite kinds of music were, like, Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth.

U2.

We'd do just about everything together.

Davis: Now I want to draw your attention back to August of last year.

Were you in the Cricket County Juvenile Detention Facility?

Yes, I was. Okay, and what were you in there for at the time?

Burglary. Okay.

And when you were there, was there a Jason Baldwin in the juvenile detention facility at the same time?

Yes. Now, while you were in contact with this Jason Baldwin, was there anything mentioned about his involvement in the murders of three 8-year-olds?

Yes, well, we was sitting there playing Spades and I wanted to get to know everybody off in there, 'cause I don't know what you call it, but I just wanted to get to know him.

And I just straight out asked him if he did it.

And he denied it, the first time.

Okay, did you have an occasion again while you were in the detention facility to ask him was he involved in the murders of the three 8-year-olds?

Yes, I think it was, like, the next day.

I believe it was the next day.

And can you tell us what the scenar-- what was going on, what was happening at the time that occurred?

Well, me and Jason Baldwin were scraping up the cards, going ourselves for lunch.

I said, "Just between me and you, I won't say a word.

Did you do it?" And he said yes and he went into detail about it.

You said he went into more detail. What did he tell you?

He told me how he dismembered the kid or I don't know exactly how many kids, so he just said he dismembered them.

He sucked the blood from the penis and the scrotum, and put the balls in his mouth.

Now, Michael, when was it that you came forward with this information?

I'm not really sure.

I believe it was like a couple of months later.

Davis: What caused you to come forward at that point in time?

Why-- why did Michael Carson no longer wanted to stay uninvolved?

Why didn't you come forward in February this year?

'Cause I saw the family on TV, and saw how brokenhearted they were about their children being missing, and I got a soft heart, I couldn't take it.

( coughing )

Now, he tells you this and then you're silent from August until February.

Is that right? Yes, sir.

And then in the second conversation you've ever had with this young man in his entire life, he tells you all this stuff.

Yes, sir.

After he's had one conversation with you.

Yes, sir.

Ford: One day when I was up here in Jonesboro working and phone rings, secretary says, "You won't know who he is, but he needs to talk to you."

I pick up the phone, he says, "I'm Danny Williams, I'm embarrassed to tell you what I need to tell you."

He said, "But I work with the juvenile department here and I do drug and alcohol counseling.

And there's a guy named Michael Carson who's gonna testify that Jason confessed to him in the jail, and I know he's lying."

I said, "What are you talking about?"

He said, "Well," he said, "Several months ago, Michael Carson was one of the kids that I worked with, and he and I had a conversation where I told him that this Jason Baldwin had been accused of killing three boys and sexually mutilating them."

And basically, he gave Michael Carson the details that he testified to at the trial.

At the time, Carson says nothing.

And then, he later-- Carson later tells him, he said, "Hey, by the way, Danny, I've--

I've-- telling the police that, you know, Jason confessed to me."

And so he calls me up and says, "Hey, no, no, no."

He said, "This kid's a liar, he's no good, I know he's lying.

And the only reason he's got this information is because I gave it to him."

The counselor of this kid called the prosecution and told them what a liar he was, and the prosecution still used the kid--

That's right. And now they're trying to keep out the fact-- the background of the kid.

Obviously, we want to get that information out, but the judge acts like he may not let us use him at all.

We should absolutely be able to let that jury know that he is LSD-dependent because it does affect his ability to recall.

You know, the judge takes us-- takes all that away from us, yeah, the kid looks pretty believable.

Not only are they-- are they keeping out the background of the kid when he testifies so the jury doesn't have all the eggs, but now they're keeping out the counselor who even knows about this kid who told them the story in the first place prior to him ever telling the police.

All that goes to the credibility.

Wadley: I think that would have shown the jury that he didn't have quite that kind heart, that soft heart that he tried to tell them.

That's right.

Fogelman : Detective Allen, I want to direct your attention to November the 17th, 1993.

Were you asked to, uh, make contact with some property owners at the Lakeshore Trailer Park and also get with the Arkansas State Police dive team?

Allen: Yes, sir, I was.

And after a period of time--

( stuttering ) of searching, do you know whether any items were recovered?

Uh, yes, sir. All right.

Marked for identification purposes is state's exhibit 77, and I ask if you can identify that.

Yes, I can identify this by my, uh...

11/17 of '93, M. Allen, that I put here.

Where did you get the knife? I got this knife from a diver with the-- with the state police.

How long did this search take place?

How long? Yes, sir.

From memory, I'm thinking maybe

10:30 am is about the time they got suited up and started-- started to look.

And you quit-- you quit at when?

They located the... knife at 11:35 am.

So, what-- Or 11:30-11:35.

So, about an hour. About an hour and a half, yeah.

Are you telling this jury that this knife is the murder weapon?

Is that what you're telling this jury?

No, sir, I'm not telling the jury that.

Okay, now that we're good. Understand that.

What day were these individuals charged?

What day did you all charge Damien Echols with this crime?

Was it June the 3rd? Yes, sir.

And what day was it that you were out there searching this lake?

This was on 11/17 of '93.

November 17 of 1993.

Yes, sir. That's all.

( chatter )

( mumbles )

The damn system stinks.

They're playing with our lives, and there's nothing right about it.

It's kind of like the Nazis, you know.

They can just take somebody's word and come in your house and take you away.

And basically, that's what they did because of what Jessie told them, even though it had all those inconsistencies in it.

If we'd had money, do you think these three boys would've been picked up?

They found people that they knew that didn't have money, some boys that been in a little bit of trouble.

They thought we didn't care, but they were wrong.

They're bad wrong.

I don't believe that chil-- that children could be that cold-blooded as what happened to those boys.

Frank J. Peretti: And state's exhibit 67A shows the, um... the hog-tying fashion on the-- the hands were hog-tied to the feet behind the back, and this is the photograph, um, showing that the shoelaces.

And that injury, um... you say is-- is typical of a belt injury.

You know, the belt has a little buckle, and that's what the-- the buckle, that's that little one that goes back and forth, left and right, that's the-- the base of the latch.

( clears throat ) Here, this red area here, this is the, uh, the shaft of the penis.

And here is where the scrotal sac and testes should be, and they're missing.

So what we have is that the-the skin overlying the penis and the head of the penis has been carved off, it's gone, its not there.

In layman's language that I-I understand... with respect-- his penis has not been cut off, has it?

No, the-the skin has been taken off the penis, yeah.

And basically it would take some skill and precision to do that, wouldn't it?

I would think so. Okay.

It was to be done, this dissection, where the skin is cut off, that would take a very sharp instrument, would it not?

Um, I-I think it would.

Such as a razor.

Or a sharp knife. A very sharp knife.

Doctor, if you were to do this, with the skill and the precision and the knowledge that you take, how long would it take you to do that?

Frank Peretti: It would take me some time.

Paul Ford: It'd take you longer than five to ten minutes.

I would think so.

And that's at-- in your lab.

I would think so. With a scalpel.

Is that correct? That's correct.

Now, Doctor, if we added to the equation that you were in the dark, could you-- could you do this in the dark?

You, Doctor, could you do it in the dark?

Peretti: It'd be difficult.

Could you do this in the water?

You, Doctor, could you do this in the water?

I think it would be very difficult to do.

If you were doing it in the dark, in the water, with mosquitos all around you, would that make it even much more difficult?

I would think so.

I would take you-- it would be a very tedious task for you.

It wou-- A skilled pathologist.

It would.

Now, isn't it true, Doctor, that people have five-- about five pints of blood?

A little more than that, yes.

Okay, um... now, if I poured out five pints of blood out here on the floor, it'd make a big mess, wouldn't it?

Yes.

And it would be almost impossible to clean up.

Well, you could do it, but... not very easily.

It'd be very, very difficult, wouldn't it?

It's not easy to clean blood.

Okay, does blood soak into the ground?

Um, yes it does. Okay.

Doctor, with this homicide we're talking about here today, would you agree with me that this could have happened in one of three ways.

These injuries could have happened in the water, these injuries could have happened on the bank there by the side of the ditch, or it could've happened somewhere else.

Would you agree with me those are the three possibilities of how this could've happened?

Yes. Okay, now, with your knowledge of the amount of blood that was lost from not only Chris Byers but these other boys, who've had some pretty-- they're gonna bleed as well, won't they?

Oh, yes. Okay.

Do you have an opinion as to whether or not you could clean up that amount of blood at a scene in the dark?

Do you have an opinion as to that?

I think it'll be quite difficult to do, to have, um, injuries of this nature without having any blood.

I mean, that's...

I-I would question that, about the blood.

Okay.

Unless it happened in the water or it happened some other place.

Okay, and you again, Doctor, stated that you couldn't-- you couldn't do this in the water.

Personally, I-I don't think I could. Okay.

I don't get off on hurting people or... inflicting pain on the rest of the human race or just... causing destruction for the purpose of destruction.

I probably been in one or two fights my entire life.

Mmm.

And especially a child.

It just-- because they didn't do anything to deserve what they got.

Mmm.

And I believe whatever you do to someone else, whether it's good or bad, is eventually gonna come back around to you.

Hmm.

Even the person who did this, if they're not caught and punished, then something will happen in their life where they will be punished.

( dogs barking )

Domini Teer: People kept telling me not to go out with him because he was, like... some kind of devil worshipper and stuff and I met him in Wal-Mart.

( chuckles )

And-and he followed me around like a puppy dog.

And we just started talking, you know, he's real sweet.

Not like everybody else was making him out to be.

That night, we started going out, and-- it was like, a month, and he called me up on the telephone at my dad's girlfriend's house, and he goes, "Will you me marry me?" I'm like, "What?"

And he goes, "Will you marry me?"

I was like, "Could you repeat that one more time?"

And he goes, "Will you marry me?", and I said...

"Yeah."

When I got pregnant, I had this big picture painted in my mind.

You know, Damien's gonna be there and I get to yell at him when I have the baby.

And instead, I was yelling at her.

( sobbing )

I miss him so much.

I mean, and he isn't gonna see the baby, they won't let him touch the baby.

It makes me so, well, pissed off.

I just felt different when he was born.

It was...

It made me feel, like, I guess just real good inside.

Just... to think that I gave life to another human being.

Something completely separate from me, but still part of me.

I just hope that I'll be there when he grows up, to watch him.

Brent Davis: You're familiar with a fellow named Aleister Crowley?

I know who he is. You've heard of him?

I know who he is. Okay.

Uh, and...

He's the guy who kind of professes-- he's-- he's a noted author in the field of Satanic worship, right?

I've never-- I know who he is but I never saw any of his books, personally.

Okay, not really much of a follower of his?

I would've read him if I would've saw him, but, I just never.. Okay, okay.

But Aleister Crowley is a guy that, based on his writings, believes in human sacrifice, doesn't he?

He also believed he was God, though, so...

Okay, and he also had writings that indicated that children were the best type of human sacrifice, correct?

Yes, sir. Okay.

Davis: But Aleister Crowley doesn't have any particular significance to you?

I know who he is, I've read a little bit about him, but I've never read anything by him.

Okay. Let me show you a copy of some documents.

Do you recognize that?

Yes. Okay. What is that?

Um, it was this paper I had on, uh, different alphabets for, like, translations where you could write things that nobody can read, and this was one of the forms.

Oh, okay. Well, where'd you have that at?

Where did it-- when did you do that, write those things out?

Sometime before I was arrested, I guess.

Okay, are you sure that you hadn't done those since you were arrested, while you've been staying in jail?

I don't know, I might have.

Davis: Well, what-- whose names are written on that document?

Mine, Jason's, my son's, uh, one that says Aleister Crowley and--

Just wait, wait. Who?

Aleister Crowley.

This is a document that you've written while you've been waiting in jail for trial, right?

If you say so.

Well, you wrote it, correct?

That's your writing? Mm-hmm.

Okay.

You recall when you wrote it?

Not really.

Well, what I'm gonna ask you is that this Damien Seth Ezeriah Echols, your son, he wasn't born until after you were placed in jail, correct?

Yes. Okay.

So if you got his name listed on this document, then this document had to be generated after he was born, right?

Yes.

Okay, so this is something you've written since you've been sitting in here in jail waiting for trial.

Yes.

And what you were doing was writing out various names in different-type alphabets, correct?

From the way it looks here, I was practicing, trying to memorize 'em.

Okay, and one of the names that you picked out to write about was this fellow named Aleister Crowley, correct?

Mm-hmm. Is that just-- just a total coincidence you just pulled his name out of the air?

No, it's just the same book that I had with this, the different alphabets in it, it also had stuff about him in it.

Well, did you have the book out there at the time you were doing this?

Mm-mmm, this is was just from what I remembered myself where I was practicing, trying to memorize, get it all in my head or--

So-so you were going over it, and working on it in your head, and at that point in time... you write all this down from memory?

Mm-hmm.

Davis: The people that are listed on here, you've got your name on here, right?

Damien: Mm-hmm. And then Jason Baldwin, which is your best friend, right?

And then you got Damien Seth Ezeriah Echols.

That's your son? Damien: Yes, it is.

Davis: Okay, and then the only other name on this document besides yourself, your best friend, and your son, is Aleister Crowley, correct?

Yes, sir.

I believe this witness has requested not to be photographed.

That's correct, Your Honor.

( coughing )

Would you state your name for the jury?

Christie: Christie Ann Bickle.

Okay, and do like you just did and speak up as best you can.

Okay, Christie?

Okay. Are you nervous?

Christie: Yes. John Fogelman : All right.

Okay, did you hear somebody say something about the murder of the three little boys?

Christie: Yes, sir. I heard, um, Damien Echols say that he'd killed the three boys.

Fogelman : Where were you?

Was he saying that to you or what were you doing?

Christie: I was walking by with my friend.

( coughing )

Christie, I'm Scott Davidson and I've got a couple of questions to ask you too, okay?

Okay. Okay.

Um, first of all, uh, do you remember what day this was that you heard this?

No, sir.

Davidson: That's the first time you'd ever seen him in your life.

Christie: Yes, sir.

Davidson: What did he say before you say that he said he killed those three boys?

What'd he say before that?

Christie: I don't know.

Davidson: What'd he say after that?

I don't know.

Davidson: And how-- how close were you to him?

I wasn't close.

Davidson: Did he scream it? Christie: I don't know.

Davidson: Did he yell it? Christie: I don't know.

Davidson: Call your next witness.

Man: Call Jodie Medford.

Burnett: All right, again, this witness has requested not to be photographed.

Jodie, I want to direct your attention to May of 1993, after the murders of the three little boys.

Did you have occasion to be at the softball field and-and, uh, hear a comment in regard to the murders?

Jodie Medford: Yes, sir. Davidson: All right.

Tell the jury, uh, first-- tell the jury first what you heard.

Jodie: He said, "I killed the little boys and before I turn myself in that I'm gonna kill two more, and I already had one of 'em picked out."

Davidson: You didn't recognize anybody else that was with him?

Um, I saw Jason Baldwin there.

Had you heard people talking about Damien before this?

Yes, sir.

Did you think... did you think he was kind of weird or something?

Yes, sir, 'cause he was dressed all in black, and his hair was jet black and long, and shaved on the side.

Margaret, two teenage girls took the stand this morning, and they said they heard Damien Echols confess to the murders of three eight-year-old boys last May.

One of the girls said she overheard Damien Echols say, "I killed the three boys, and I'm going to kill two more.

I already have one picked out."

Later in the afternoon, when the defense began presenting its witnesses, Damien Echols himself took the stand.

He said he thought the girls were lying and they were making up those statements.

He also said he did not practice Satanism and denied any involvement in the murders of Chris Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch.

Were you working at Bojangles restaurant on the evening of May 5th of 1993?

Yes, sir.

Could you tell us what happened?

King: Well, it was about 9:30 at night, uh...

I found a black gentleman sitting in the women's restroom on the commode, and there was blood dripping off of his forearm.

But he had mud on his feet and he seemed to be disarrayed when I talked to him.

I called the police then.

Davidson: What happened then?

King: It was a female officer for the West Memphis Police Department, and, uh, she pulled on the light and I saw her coming so I went up to the front door, but she kept coming around.

She went to the drive-through window.

Davidson: So you did not go in the restaurant.

No, sir, I did not.

Did you ever find this bleeding black man?

No, sir, I did not.

You have a report that you made regarding this incident?

No, sir, I do not.

Robin Wadley: And you're out looking for some boys and you're out in that area and you hear about someone bleeding, did that-- did anything go off in your mind thinking that something may be going on?

Meek: Okay, first of all, you got to understand it was a different area I went to.

It was a different ward.

I did not connect the two at all.

Well, patrolman, it may have been outside your ward, but distance-wise between the area where you were looking and where this restaurant was, it's not a long distance, is it?

No, sir. It's really not.

Okay.

Davidson: Did any other officer come out there that evening?

Not that evening.

Uh, were you working on the day of May 6th of 1993?

Yes, sir.

Two detectives came out, and they took a report as far as what I had seen.

Uh, description of the gentleman and then they took blood scrapings off the wall.

All right, Detective Ridge, what is the date that you sent the blood scrapings off to the crime lab to be analyzed?

Detective Bryn Rudge: They were never sent.

They were never sent? That's correct.

All right, where are the blood samples at this time?

I don't know, sir. They're lost.

They're lost?

Yes, sir, that's my mistake. I lost a piece of evidence.

( chatter in background )

Most of the time, he came up with the stupid ideas.

I guess I influenced him about as much as he influenced me, I guess.

Most of the time, we didn't really set out to do anything in particular.

We just started hanging around, whatever happened, just usually happened.

Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

We were just sitting on the couch watching TV the night we were arrested.

( chuckles ) Pigs busted in, started running all over the house.

We tried to hide in the bedroom when the cops first came, but they wouldn't leave.

We were in the bedroom, turned the light off.

Maybe they'll go away.

"I know you're in there. Open up."

( chuckles )

We saw the lights go out.

And Domini turned them back on.

Turned them back-- No, it was my sister.

Oh.

Robin Wadley: Well, the interesting thing about it is, is that the-the-the one knife that we know somebody owns... is the Byers knife.

We know he owns that knife.

Dr. James Raiscot: He's got the motive, his son, who he's upset with, his son was the only one mutilated.

The other two weren't mutilated.

He's-he's-he's got knowledge about the area, he knows when the search is over with, he's big enough that he can carry the boys there and throw them in.

He's a jeweler, he's precise enough to have-- to have committed that mutilation.

All of the pieces fit together with somebody in a different location killing the boys in a different location.

Because there's no mosquito bites on them.

So we know that after the boys were killed, and during, they weren't outside.

They had to be inside

'cause there's no mosquito bites on them.

So that means they were carried from a death scene someplace, unconscious, and brought down to the river.

And they had to be killed shortly before they were brought down there because they all died within a short period of time.

So after they were bled to death, after they were bludgeoned and unconscious, somebody had to take those three, take them to the scene, and dump them.

In order to do that, you gotta be physically strong enough to carry a fifty- to sixty-year-old unconscious kid, who's hogtied.

Ja-- Jason couldn't have done it.

In his best day, he couldn't carry a little baby, with those little skinny arms of his.

So when we look at this whole thing, all the pieces that they tried to put together, none of it fits with Jason, and just about all of it fits towards a person like Byers.

Fogelman : When did you receive that knife?

On the... I believe it was on the 8th.

I've got Jan--

It's hard to make this out. January the 8th, 1994.

All right, and, who did you receive this knife from?

I received it from, uh...

I mean, how did I actually receive it?

No, who did you receive the knife from?

I received it from, uh, Joe and the people with HBO productions.

Okay, Bruce and...

Gitchell: Bruce and Joe. The other one, wherever he is. All right.

Fogelman : Upon receiving that knife, what did you do with it?

Gitchell: I saw what I thought to be some type of substance on the knife.

And, actually, I did not know what it was.

I, in turn, sent this knife to Genetic Design.

When the knife was received by your firm, did you or your lab run tests on that particular knife?

There was a small amount of what appeared to be blood, um, that was dried, or tissue, in a crevice on the knife where the knife folds when it locks.

The results of the tests showed us that, um, there was DNA present on the knife, and that we were able to get a type using a test called HLA BQ Alpha.

And Mr. Byers had the same type that was detected from the specimen from the knife.

Okay, and what was the BQ Alpha type for Christopher Byers?

It was also the same type.

So, the blood on the knife, and...

Christopher Byers' blood and John Mark Byers' blood all had the same type.

Correct.

Let me go ahead and... open it.

Judge, if I can approach the witness.

Burnett: All right.

I want you to take a good look at that knife.

And I will call that for identification purposes the John Mark Byers knife.

Doctor, did you make the comparison with this knife, E-6, and-- and compared that with some of the wounds that you found on Chris Byers?

Uh, yes I did.

All right, does that knife appear to be a serrated knife?

Yes, this is a serrated knife.

Do you have an opinion if some of the wounds that you've found on Chris Byers were consistent with wounds which would have been caused by that type of serrated knife?

Well, some of the wounds that have the smaller serrated patterns, um, could have been inflicted with a knife having this type of serration.

Man: How do you think this has gone over so far on the Mark Byers aspect?

Obviously we thought long and hard about mentioning a father as a possible suspect.

I hate having to do that, but the way the circumstances are... it's just coming out whether we really want it to or not.

I mean, um...

You know, we had suspicions even before the knife showed up.

Do you think anybody realizes the reason for the three-day delay in Jessie's trial was waiting on that... the DNA test to come back on that Byers knife?

Ron Lax: I doubt it.

And even after the results came back and it showed that it could be Mark's blood as well as Chris's blood, that doesn't alleviate the fact that he said no one had ever cut themself on the knife, and it shouldn't have had blood on it at all.

Well, do you think the theory, or that the argument at least that, it wasn't that the blood was found on the blade, which could be easily wiped off, but it was back in the hinges that you normally wouldn't think, if you were wiping off the blood you wouldn't think the blood would be inside the hinges, and that's where they found that particular blood.

How do we get that in, just ask Gitchell?

Ask Byers. I mean, we could put Byers up on the stand.

Davidson: I think the jury expects to see him now.

They wanna see him up there, they wanna see what he has to say, don't you think so?

I think so, yes.

Mr. Byers, I need to ask you about defense exhibit number E-6, this particular folding lock-blade Kershaw knife.

If I could approach the witness, Your Honor.

Burnett: Yes.

Price: Take a look at that knife, please.

( coughing )

Had that knife ever been used before?

Used for what?

Used for any purpose?

I've had... trim your toenails with it.

I had attempted to trim on some venison that I had.

I-- You attempted to trim on some venison.

When was it you attempted to trim on some venison?

Somewhere time the Thanksgiving holidays.

Do you recall being asked on January the 26th, this is on page three, by Inspector Gitchell, had you ever taken that knife hunting or used it recently.

Do you remember being asked that question by Inspector Gitchell?

Specifically, no, sir, he asked me a lot of questions.

All right, do you remember giving the answer, "No, that knife had not been used at all.

It had just been kept up, put in my dresser, and I didn't use it, and the reason why was because of the serrated edges."

Do you recall giving that answer to Inspector Gitchell on the 26th?

No, sir, don't recall giving him that exact answer.

I'm sure his question wouldn't have been asked exactly like your question was--

All right, did Gitchell tell you, "Let me explain a problem we had, and you need to answer this for me.

We have found blood on this knife."

Did Gitchell ask you that question?

I don't remember if he said there was or not.

Price: Did you tell Gitchell you had no idea how Chris's blood could be on that knife?

Mark: Yes, sir, I would not have any idea.

If his blood was on that knife, I would not know how it got there.

Did you have any idea how human blood was on that knife?

Well, yes, I would have an idea.

I cut my thumb.

All right.

Is it true that you never told Inspector Gitchell on January 26th that you ever cut your thumb with that particular knife, did you?

Yes, sir, it seems like during the course of the day, I did tell him that.

Was that during the taped conversation or was that after?

I don't remember. Okay.

Price: On the top of page eight, do you recall being asked the question, "I have no idea, no idea how it could have any human blood on it."

You recall giving that answer? Yes, sir.

Then do you recall stating, "I don't even remember nicking myself with it, cutting the dinner meat or anything."

Is that the answer you gave?

Yes, sir. And is that the truth?

I-- at the time, when he was questioning me, I didn't re-- I mean, I might not have remembered.

We were getting ready to go into a trial, uh...

Did you remember, on this date, cutting yourself with the venison or not cutting yourself?

The date that Gary questioned--

The date that Gary questioned, yes, sir.

I might not have remembered it at that time when he was questioning me, but I could have remembered it later on in the day and talked to him about it. Ah, okay.

Earlier that afternoon, had you given Chris a whipping?

Approximately around 5:30.

This was about 5:30 and was-- was this with a belt?

Yes, sir.

Okay, approximately how many times did you hit him with the belt?

I spanked him two or three times.

And on what part of the body did you spank him?

It would have been just on his behind.

Okay, was his, uh, was he wearing his pants or did you have to pull his pants down?

No, he had on blue jeans.

Okay.

( camera shutters clicking )

Reporter: Byers, the judge back there during that last recess, before you were recalled, says that you have a brain tumor, and you're being treated.

Can you-- do you want to talk about that? Is it true?

It's been rumored since Corning.

Yes, I have a brain tumor.

And you're being treated.

Yes, I'm being treated for it.

Reporter #2: I need to ask you one question, and-and I hope you won't get angry but has this-- this-- even the suggestion that you may have had something to do with the murders of these boys caused any problems within your-- your family, or with any of the other victims' families?

Melissa Byers: No. They all...

They all know the truth, and no.

Reporter #3: Do you have anything to do with these boys' deaths?

No more than you did.

Reporter #4: Fogelman says you're buying a new house.

Is that why you're leaving West Memphis?

Mark: I didn't say that. Fogelman did this morning.

Reporter #5: Yeah, he said that's why you were leaving.

You know, we might try to move.

Reporter #4: Out of West Memphis?

Well, somewhere. I mean, you would probably wanna move.

You know. Did you say where you're going to move?

Do you want to say? No.

Melissa: Let me ask you a question, Mr. Sullivan, would you want to live in a house that your baby died in less than three-fourths of a mile from it?

Reporter: I wouldn't, no. Mike: No? Okay.

That answers the question. Come on.

Reporter: You're talking about your whole family though, right?

You're not just talking about you.

Mike: You wouldn't move and leave your wife and children somewhere, would you?

Reporter: Not if we were gonna stay together, no.

Mark: Okay. ( chuckles )

I mean, some of the questions you ask are kind of ridiculous.

You know, I know you're not asking, but some of them are kind of... odd or strange or different or, you know, however you'd like to comment on them.

But some of them it seems like you'd just use a little common sense and think about what you would do or how you would feel.

Some of the questions you fellows would never have to ask.

Well the only thing is-- We have to ask them.

We have to ask them, so we can't quote ourselves. We have to...

I know, but then a lot of times things are printed in the paper that people did not say, and the news media, and I'm not stating which individual, says they got it from a confidential informer, and you don't have to turn your confidential informer over when your confidential informer is your imagination.

Well...

You know, there's a lot of things that's printed in the paper that people did not say.

But the media has the rights to print what they want to print.

You know, victims don't have any rights.

( chatter ) ( shutters clicking )

( metal detector beeping )

Now that I've heard him talk, I don't...

I kinda of had an idea what he was like before he talked, but after he talked, he wasn't anything like I thought he would be.

Reporter: How is he?

I see him now as more like a human being than I did before.

Now I see him as having a personality.

From a defense standpoint, I've never been a defense attorney, but to put him on the witness stand sure seemed to be an awful big gamble.

And I can't understand the mind-set that puts you in the position where you're willing to take that gamble.

Fogelman : Especially when you follow it up with Mr. Bojangles's accusations, it didn't make any sense.

'Cause it, to me, if I were on the jury, it would look like just some-- something desperate.

You know, they're gonna cast blame on anybody and everybody they can.

Of course-- and the defense didn't have the guts to actually ask him, "Did he do it?"

The song that I just really can relate to by Metallica, "The Sanitarium."

'Cause I feel like all those times that I was in the hospital, I didn't need it.

It was just the police, another way for them setting me up when they couldn't send me to prison or something.

Like, "Well, we'll get him out of our way for a little while by... sending him somewhere else."

Hmm.

I like Metallica because, well, all hard music like that because... it, like, gives me an adrenaline rush and...

makes me feel more alive.

( music playing )

( footsteps clomping )

( keys jingling )

( handcuffs jingling )

( door slams loudly )

( door slams loudly )

Now, during the course of talking to Mr. Echols, did you ask him who did he think did it and why?

In one area he says he had an opinion for who could've done the murders as being someone sick and that it was some type of thrill kill.

He also stated that the penis was a symbol of power in his religion known as Wicca.

He also stated that the number three has a sacred number in the belief.

Fogelman: And did he tell you anything about demonic forces?

Yes, sir, he said that all people have a demonic force in them and that a person would have no control over that demonic force.

Price: Mr. Echols is not the only person that told you that the children, the kids probably died of mutilation, was he?

Ridge: No, sir.

Price: And with Mr. Echols, you asked him something to the effect of what type of books did he enjoy reading?

Ridge: Yes, sir. Okay, and...

Price: Um, and he told you, I'm thinking, is it Anton LaVey and Stephen King?

Yes, sir. Okay.

Now, in your opinion, is there anything unusual about those being the type of books that Mr. Echols likes to read?

( sighing )

Anton LaVey is a book of Satanic rules and involvement.

Uh, Stephen King seems to be horror movies, horror books, and if you're asking if I felt that was strange, yes, sir, I did. All right.

Now, let me refer you back to your statement that you gave Officer Ridge.

Did you tell him in that statement that you had been a member of a white witch group for five years?

No. Okay.

Damien: I have never been a member of any group.

And so, if he put that in his report, you're saying that's inaccurate.

Yes, I am. He made that up.

Yes, I am.

Davis: On question number nine, "How do you think it would-- the person feels that did this?" the answer was, "Probably makes them feel good.

Gives them power."

Now, I guess Officer Ridge said that, too.

No, I used common sense on that.

Okay. If someone was doing it, then they must've wanted to.

And if they were doing something they wanted to, it must've made them happy.

I don't think they were doing it because someone forced them to or because they didn't want to.

Okay. So in your mind, the person that killed these three kids, it's common sense that killing three eight-ear-old kids would make you feel good.

Whoever did it, it must have.

Davis: Okay. Did you also tell him that each person had a demonic side to them?

I believe every person has a good side and a bad side, yes.

Well, did you-- were those your words when you referred-- what he's got written down here, he stated that there was no control of the demonic portion of people?

He asked me did I think there were some people that they could not control that side.

I said, "Yes, I guess there is."

David: It also states that Damien stated that the younger the victim was made more innocent, and in turn, more power would be given the person doing the killing.

Right. Okay. Did you say that?

Yes. Mm-hmm. Okay, those are your words.

Did you pick that up when you were studying to be a Catholic?

No, I saw that on several movies, books.

Davis: Question number 11, when he asked you how do you think they died, and its answer is mutilation, cut up all three, heard they were in the water drowning, cut up one more than the others.

Is that, again, what Officer Ridge said and you just agreed?

No, I had saw that on TV, newspapers, people talking.

And...

you knew it about the drowning, correct?

I knew they were in the water. I didn't know that they drowned.

You knew that one was cut up more than the others.

Damien: He asked me, "Was it possible--" he said, "Do you think one was hurt worse than the others?" I said, "Yeah, I guess."

Davis: Oh. So again, that particular area's one of those things where Officer Ridge told you and that wasn't your response.

You just responded about the drowning and mutilation.

If he didn't get the answer he liked, he would go back and try to get me to say something else.

Davis: And it's your testimony specifically that you weren't the one who said one was cut up more than the other.

No, I did not. That it was Officer Ridge who said that.

I agreed with him when he said that.

Okay.

And if he says something different, that'd be--

He'd-- he'd be lying about it, right?

You're the one telling the truth.

I wouldn't put it past him.

Lax: Damien, we're getting close to the end now.

How do you feel so far?

I feel good so far.

So far, to me it looks like we've got it beat.

Lax: What do you think the worst thing for us right now has been?

In the three weeks we've been over here, what has hurt the most?

I only know of two things that have really hurt: that one kid getting up there with Jason.

Yeah. And, um, those girls.

Lax: The Thursday's newspaper which addressed you testifying on Wednesday was real good.

It talked about that you did well, but Friday's regarding your Thursday testimony wasn't as good.

What do you think?

I think I did real good in the first day, and the second day it didn't look as good because Davis kept trying to trip me up or something.

Lax: There was one point in there, though, where he asked you, he says it looks like you're just changing your story to fit whatever comes up.

And you said, "Yeah."

I was just, like, halfway listening to him.

After all, I was-- I was real nervous when I first got up there, and I have to keep my attention focused and everything, but after I was up there a few minutes, I started daydreaming.

Lax: Daydreaming.

( chuckles )

Maybe they'll only halfway kill you when they convict you.

Halfway? Yeah.

How'll they do that? I don't know.

Maybe they'll start daydreaming and forget what they're doing.

Anything wrong with wearing black in and of itself?

No.

Anything wrong with the heavy metal stuff in and of itself? No.

The Book of Shadows, anything wrong with that in and of itself? No.

But when you look at it together, and you get, you begin to see inside Damien Echols, you see inside that person.

And you look inside there and there's not a soul in there.

My client is a teenager, and we certainly didn't hide that fact from you.

And the fact that my client did some writings-- take these back, go back and read 'em, go read all these.

But this, in and of itself, is no evidence of murder.

And even if you add in all the other things, quote, "trappings of occultism," according to Dr. Griffiths, that has nothing to do with this case whatsoever.

Is it a coincidence, this knife is found behind in the lake, hidden behind Jason Baldwin's house?

There are marks on Christopher Byers, where you got, like a dash where it's cut, a cut, an open space, a cut and an open space.

And if you take this knife and do that, you can see it leaves a cut and an open space, cut and an open space.

Now if you take... this knife, exhibit... defense exhibit six, and even with the slightest pressure...

It makes a straight line.

Crime scene.

It doesn't fit for a kid to bleed to death and not leave a drop behind.

For all the other injuries to their faces, these other injuries are gonna bleed, too.

And there's not a drop of blood?

Not a drop of blood?

Look at history, look at hundreds of years of religious history.

There have been hundreds of people killed in the name of religion.

It is a motivating force.

It gives people who want to do evil, want to commit murders, a reason to do what they're doing.

Ford: Satanic panic.

Yeah, that's a scary thing.

But it's a scarier thing to convict someone with no evidence.

If you can't figure it out, if it doesn't make sense, let's call it a cult killing, and find somebody weird!

Find somebody who wears black!

But they let one thing go by the wayside: is that there's nothing that links Jason to these activities.

Not one witness says, "That's what he does, that's his beliefs."

We don't have a writing, no drawing, not a picture, not a person, nothing... links him to it.

But that doesn't matter. That didn't matter to them.

Because he's sitting over there with Damien.

They want you to convict him.

Guilt by association is a horrible thing.

( camera shutters clicking )

Reporter: Damien, do you think he looks like you?

I don't know.

Not really. I think he's got Domini's ears.

( camera shutters clicking )

Reporter #2: Can you change his diapers, Damien?

Hopefully not.

( giggling )

Reporter #2: So do you think you'll be spending more time with your child, Damien?

Hopefully. I hope.

Man: Come on, Damien, it's time.

( indistinct chatter)

( mumbling )

Man: So what's his first words gonna be, not guilty?

Um, his first words will be capital murder.

( chuckles )

Ford: What's it feel like to be-- to go through a month-long trial, accused of something you didn't do?

Horrible.

( bang )

Ford: Are you nervous now?

Yeah. I mean, there's nothing we can do right now but sit around and wait, but... um, you-- you got anything you want to ask me?

Where do we go when, um, the jury comes back out and says I'm not guilty?

( chuckles )

Well, where do you wanna go?

I don't know. Where do you want to go?

Disneyland, maybe. Would you?

Would you like to go to Disneyland? Yeah.

Have you-- have you ever been anywhere out of-- have you ever been on a trip at all?

Haver Springs. Haver Springs.

Well, I'll tell you what, my man, I-I--

It'd be a joy to take you.

Would you like to go? You would, wouldn't you?

Jason: Yeah.

Ford: Do you understand now why we, uh... why we didn't want you to testify?

Yeah.

Can you see how it hurt Damien?

You-- I think it did.

And then see how they talked about his witnesses.

Mm-hmm. See, they don't have anything to talk about us.

They don't have anything to talk about, cause we didn't give them a chance.

And, uh...

( sighing ) Oh, man.

It's heavy.

Do you think that, um, this'll change at all?

How you treat your friends?

Yeah.

What do you think this would do?

What do you think this is gonna do to you and Damien?

You and your friendship with Damien?

( bang )

Stop it, I guess.

Would you stop being his friend?

I wouldn't be his enemy, but after this, I probably wouldn't be around or nothing.

You-you heard what was said about him.

Do you think he could have done it?

Isn't that what they said?

Yeah, you think he could have, do you thank Damien could have killed those little boys?

They made it seem like he did.

What do you think? I don't know.

If you were on that jury, you'd have-- would you have a hard time letting him go?

Based on what you heard?

Yeah.

I would, too.

Would you let yourself go?

Yeah. If I was up there, I'd let myself go, yeah.

That's what I wanted to hear.

Ford: 'Cause you know you didn't do it, don't you?

Yeah.

Lax: Did Paul surprise you on his closing?

Damien: I think Paul should have left out the guilt by association part.

That's not-- He came down hard on that, didn't he?

Mm-hmm.

Did you have any idea he was gonna do that?

Hmm-mm.

I thought he'd be smart enough to stay away from it.

Hurt your feelings?

I wanted to strangle him.

( chuckles )

Were you watching the jury?

Mm-hmm.

How do you pick it?

With my finger. No.

( nervous chuckling )

Now I think it was probably about 60/40.

40 for and 60 against.

Once you get out of here, you gonna buy the beer?

The whiskey. I don't know about beer.

And I'll buy the Bojangles chicken.

( chuckling )

I want to get a cigar, cut it open and dump all the tobacco out, fill it with marijuana, smoke the whole thing.

I mean, we gotta get you out of here.

You gotta go to work where you can pay my bill.

I need to get a job at a gas station or something.

Change my name to Bob Smith.

All right, ladies and gentlemen, the bailiffs inform me, uh, that you've arrived at verdicts.

If you-- if you have, pass 'em to the bailiff, please, or the sheriff and...

Okay, thank you.

The first verdict reads as follows.

"We jury find Damien Echols guilty of capital murder in the death of Stevie Branch.

We the jury find Damien Echols guilty of capital murder in the death of Chris Byers.

We the jury find Damien Echols guilty of capital murder in the death of Michael Moore.

We the jury find Jason Baldwin guilty of capital murder in the death of Chris Byers.

We the jury find Jason Baldwin guilty of capital murder in the death of Stevie Branch.

We the jury find Jason Baldwin guilty of capital murder in the death of Michael Moore."

All of the verdicts are signed by the foreman.

And ladies and gentlemen, it's necessary at this time that the court poll the jury as to all six verdicts, so...

( screaming ) ...when your name is called, if these six verdicts represent your individual verdict, then answer yes as your name is called.

Juror number one.

Juror #1: Yes. Woman: Juror number two.

Juror #2: Yes.

Woman: Juror number three.

Juror #3: Yes.

Woman: Juror number four.

( sobbing )

Woman: Juror number five. Juror #5: Yes.

Woman: Juror number six. Juror #6: Yes.

Woman: Juror number seven. Juror #7: Yes.

The prosecution didn't have any evidence, but they don't care.

Just because somebody wears black and has different beliefs, they're gonna convict them of something.

Poor, poor, parents. Yeah, I'm sorry for them.

But... I ain't. I ain't sorry for them.

I'm sorry for the kids.

I don't give a damn about the parents, but I'm sorry for the kids. I ain't even sorry for them.

I'm not sorry for anybody.

There is no reason they... killed three more boys.

It didn't do a damn thing.

( sobbing )

So right now, I wish I was a witch.

Talk about a spell on somebody?

Boy, I'd put a good one on.

I guess Gitchell goes out with a big bang.

Didn't know he was fuckin' gonna retire.

Woman: He's already said he was gonna retire.

Now he's probably gonna run for office.

I got an office for him.

Mayor of hell.

Far as I'm concerned, West Memphis can go to hell.

Woman: West Memphis is hell.

I have, uh, put my 20 years in, and hopefully this is the last case I'll have of this magnitude.

Hopefully it's my last case.

And, uh, I'm leaving on a high note, so there's no better way to leave than with your head up high and proud.

Well, you know, I-I don't...

I'm not surprised if that-- that's what you're asking.

You know, I told you earlier that I thought the evidence was more than sufficient to make those findings.

They won't kill no more babies.

No more babies will they kill.

Let's go.

Mmm.

Make sure you put locks-- go ahead, right behind him.

Hand me those gadgets. Yeah.

Officer: The black one and blue-- blue.

Man: Here you go.

Let me put this here.

Here we go.

( indistinct instructions )


Ready? Yup.

( chatter )

Woman: You gonna get out. Woman #2: I know.

Reporter: Do you have any comment on...

Woman: You gonna get out. Woman #2: I know.

Reporter #2: What'd you think about the verdict?

Reporter: Damien, did you do it?

Man: You're gonna fry, Damien!

Man #2: How you feeling now, Damien?

Woman: You're gonna fry, Damien.

Man: What do you think, Jason?

Man: Gonna fry!

Woman: See you in hell, Damien.

Man: We know you're innocent, Jason.

( engine revving )

( crowd clamoring )

I knew from when I was real small that people were gonna know who I was.

I always had that feeling.

But I just never knew how they were gonna learn.

Hmm.

I kind of enjoy it because now even after I die, people are going to remember me forever.

They're gonna talk about me for years.

People in West Memphis will tell their kids stories.

It-it-it'll be like, sort of, like, I'm the West Memphis boogeyman.

Little kids will be looking under their bed before they go to bed.

"Damien might be under there."


( air hissing )

( music playing )