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'West Memphis 3' Get New Hearing on Cub Scouts Murder

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By Jason Beahm on November 05, 2010 9:46 AM

Sometimes justice comes late.

The "West Memphis 3," Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, were convicted of killing three Cub Scouts 16 years ago.

Thanks to newly available DNA evidence, they may now receive a new trial.

Echols was sentenced to death and Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences. Their cases will be reviewed in a court hearing, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled.

The "West Memphis 3" were convicted after the deaths of 8-year-olds Steven Brach, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore in 1993. The boys' bodies were found mutilated in West Memphis, Arkansas. They had been hogtied with their own shoelaces. Prosecutors argued that the defendants were part of a satanic cult and that the boys were killed as part of a ritualistic sacrifice, CNN reports.

Prosecutors secured a confession from Misskelley, although the validity of it is questionable. Misskelley had a learning disability, an IQ of 70, was without an attorney or his parents, and gave a confession full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

Now, 16 years later, the case has been remanded back to a lower court and attorneys for Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley are ready to present DNA evidence, which was not available during their trial. They also plan to offer testimony that supports the innocence of the West Memphis 3. Their DNA was tested between 2005 and 2007. The material tested included hair found on and near the boys' bodies. The hairs were not those of the West Memphis 3, but that of Branch's stepfather, Terry Hobbs, as well as a friend of Hobbs'. Hobbs has never been considered a suspect.

"These young men were convicted of a brutal crime someone else committed, and we hope the state moves quickly to overturn their convictions and seek to prosecute those responsible," said Echols spokesman Lonnie Soury, CNN reports.

"We are asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to right a terrible wrong, overturn their convictions and grant Damien as well as Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley a new trial," Dennis Riordan, the lead attorney on the case, said in September.

This is a startling development and will make this a very interesting case to follow. More and more cases have been overturned over the years thanks to DNA evidence. The case has gained substantial attention in Arkansas, drawing in celebrities such as Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp to rally for the release of the West Memphis 3.

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