A lawyer is appealing a judge’s decision to refuse new DNA tests in the West Memphis Three’s long battle to prove their innocence.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A lawyer for Damien Echols is appealing a judge’s decision to refuse new DNA tests in the 1993 murder of three children.
In June, Judge Tonya Alexander ruled it was not within the ‘rights’ of the West Memphis Three, denying a habeas petition because she said it was only available to those currently detained by the state.
Lawyers have been fighting to get newly uncovered evidence tested, which they hope could exonerate Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley.
“This conclusion is based on the erroneous assumption that the only consequence that matters from a conviction is its sentence,” Echols’ attorney Patrick Benca said in a statement. “Hundreds of wrongfully convicted people sought redress after being released on parole and were ‘free’.”
Benca called Alexander’s decision “an erroneous exercise in legislative interpretation”.
“We are extremely disappointed with the judge’s decision which was based on a narrow interpretation of the law and failed to serve justice,” Echols said. “All I have asked for is the right to seek to identify the DNA of the real killer(s). We are appealing this decision and are confident that the Arkansas Supreme Court will see things differently. sad reality is that those responsible for the murders of three children in 1993 have breathed a sigh of relief now that the state of Arkansas is once again in their corner.”
Under Arkansas law, a person convicted of a crime can request DNA testing “or such other tests as may become available through advances in technology” to prove whether a person is innocent.
The appeal will go to the Arkansas Supreme Court, but no date has been set for the court to hear the case.