Big news is expected in circuit court in Jonesboro Friday morning when Judge David Laser holds a hearing — just announced today — on the West Memphis Three case. Families of defendants and victims are expected to be in court, suggesting far more than routine procedural matters are at hand.
The “DNA” will tell us Exactly what the truth shall prevail!!!!!!
The judge’s office released this statement about Friday’s hearing:
The court will take up certain matters pertaining to the cases of defendants Baldwin, Echols and Misskelley on Friday, August 19. One session will be conducted out of public presence with all defendants present and another session will be conducted in open court. The session conducted in chambers will likely begin at 10 a.m. followed by a public session which will begin about 11 a.m. Space will be limited for the public session — first to the parties, counsel and court personnel, then to family members of the victims and family members of defendants with remaining seating to be occupied by media representatives and the public. There will be approximately 15 minutes between the chamber session and open session for media and public to be seated. Miss Stephanie Harris, Arkansas Supreme Court communication counsel, will be present on Friday to assist with implementation and will be the court’s intermediary with public and press.
News is expected in circuit court in Jonesboro Friday morning when Judge David Laser holds a hearing — just announced 8-18-2011 — on the West Memphis Three case. Families of defendants and victims are expected to be in court, suggesting far more than routine procedural matters are at hand.
None of the interested parties are talking (lawyers are gagged), beyond saying that those interested in the case will want to be present. But I began making calls early this morning when I received a tip from a local attorney predicting earth-shaking developments, now believed to be release of the defendants in return for pleas to reduced charges, perhaps done in a way that the defendants can still maintain their innocence.
An Arkansas Correction Department spokesman confirms that the three defendants left the prison’s Super Max unit today in the custody of Craighead County officers for the hearing. The spokesman says the inmates took all their possessions with them. She said inmates leaving with all possessions was “unusual,” but not unprecedented. She said it was the first time all three of the defendants had left the prison together since their incarceration.
CRAIGHEAD CO., Ark. Attorneys for Damien Echols have released a status report about DNA testing that they say excludes Echols, Jesse MissKelley and Jason Baldwin of the slayings of three boys in West Memphis in 1993.
Scott Ellington, now prosecutor in the case, will be in court tomorrow, but is also gagged, a spokesman said in response to a question about whether he still favored fighting to keep the convictions in place. Actions by McDaniel and Ellington both have political tentacles. McDaniel is to run for governor in 2014. Ellington has been weighing a race for Congress next year.
UPDATE II: A Memphis TV station reports that it has had sources confirm that an agreement has been reached that would produce the release of two of the three defendants, but hasn’t yet provided other details. Our sources continue to indicate the deal covers all three defendants and that one discussion included the state agreeing to the motion for a new trial in return for an agreement from defendants to plead to charges that would qualify them for release for time served. By still having a conviction — a prospect the staunchest WM3 defenders can’t stomach — the defendants would be unable to seek damages for false imprisonment or to participate in profits from books or movies about the case. A common plea bargain tactic is to allow a nolo contendere, or no contest plea, to a criminal charge, which is a way of getting a conviction without an admission of guilt. But it would be highly unusual 18 years after a conviction.