Thursday, August 25, 2016

The West Memphis Three: Another Instance Where A Strong Pro-Guilt Case Is Being Garbled For Profit

Posted by The Machine



Above: Still under a cloud: Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols

1. Overview of the series

In my last post on how media hype can badly tangle crime cases, I examined Sarah Koenig’s biased coverage of the Adnan Syed case for the Serial podcasts and her flawed approach to assessing the evidence against him.

In this post, I will analyse a critically acclaimed documentary about another alleged miscarriage of justice: West of Memphis and associated media hype.

The Peter Jackson documentary claims three men known as the West Memphis Three (the WM3) were wrongly convicted as child killers and points the finger at another man.

2. West Memphis 3 background

In May 1993, three eight-year-old boys - Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore - were found dead in a ditch in West Memphis in the US state of Arkansas. There is a crimescene video at the bottom here.

They had been stripped and bound. Steve Branch and Michael Moore had drowned and Christopher Byers had bled to death after his genitals had been mutilated and partially removed.

Three teenagers - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley - were arrested following a tip that Echols had been seen covered in mud the evening the boys disappeared and Misskelley gave a confession.

The WM3 were convicted of murder in 1994 (see the judge and courthouse below) and sent to prison.

However, they were freed in August 2011 after taking an Alford plea. This is a deal which allowed them to maintain their innocence while agreeing prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them.



Above: the three 8-year-old victims

3. The media campaigns

There have been high-profile campaigns to free the WM3 and cast doubt on their convictions. HBO Television made three films about the case: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2 Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. CBS News produced a documentary about the case entitled A Cry for Innocence.

A number of celebrities and musicians supported the WM3, including Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, James Hetfield from Metallica, Henry Rollins, actor Johnny Depp, Natalie Mains from The Dixie Chicks, and film director Peter Jackson.  Do any of these celebrities put forward a compelling case for innocence?

In a word - no.

Johnny Depp and Henry Rollins basically say they could relate to Damian Echols.

“I immediately related to Damien and what he went through growing up. He comes from a small town from Arkansas. I come from a relatively small town in Kentucky. I can remember being kind of looked upon as a freak or, you know, different because I didn’t dress like everybody else. So I can empathize with being judged by how you look as opposed to who you are.” (Johnny Depp, A Cry for Innocence, CBS News).

“Damien liked to hang out alone and wrote he was depressed. Hello! He liked to listen to weird music. Check! He was a wise ass in the face of law enforcement. Are you kidding? It could have been me.” (Henry Rollins, West of Memphis)

.

After reading some of the comments in the media about the WM3 case, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Damien Echols was only a suspect because he wore black, listened to Metallica and read Stephen King books.

This comment by Guardian journalist Emma John is a typical comment by the supporters of the WM3

“At their subsequent trial, evidence introduced by the prosecution included the fact that Echols wore Metallica T-shirts and read Stephen King novels”

Several documentaries angled to exonerate the three have been widely promoted on HBO and Netflix including this one.



Above: one of the documentaries

Emma John and countless other journalists, as well as the producers of Paradise Lost and West of Memphis, completely ignore Echols’ startling mental health records - Exhibit 500 - that show he was a seriously disturbed and violent individual.

He was sent to a mental health hospital on three separate occasions. He threatened a number of people with violence and on occasion attacked others. For example, he threatened to kill his parents and to eat his father alive and he admitted trying to “claw the eyes of out” of a student. According to a report, Echols sucked the blood from the wound of one of the boys in Arkansas Juvenile Detention Center.

Damien Echols’ lawyers presented his mental health records as evidence in the sentencing phase of his trial, presumably to convince the jury he was mentally ill and not fully responsible for his actions, in order to spare him from the death penalty.

4. The West of Memphis production


West of Memphis
is available to watch on the streaming for-pay movie site Netflix. Netflix flatly states that the West Memphis Three are innocent.

“They spent 18 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit—and the real killer is still out there.”

There’s no legal basis for such an unequivocal claim. The WM3 accepted the court’s judgement of guilt. They were not acquitted by a jury or exonerated by the Supreme Court of the United States.

West of Memphis doesn’t provide any credible exculpatory evidence to support Netflix’s categorial assertion that the WM3 are innocent. No-one should expect this to be the case because if there had been any exculpatory evidence, it would have been presented in court.

A couple of the prosecution’s witnesses recanted their testimony, but that doesn’t mean the entire case against the WM3 collapses. In the Perugia case Judge Massei didn’t find two of the prosecution’s witnesses to be credible, but he and the other judges still found Knox and Sollecito guilty of Meredith Kercher’s murder. 

The Telegraph and Empire gave West of Memphis five stars out of five. The Guardian gave it four stars. Does the documentary deserve such high ratings from these mainstream media organisations?


If you compare West of Memphis to Andrea Vogt’s documentary about the Meredith Kercher case is Amanda Knox Guilty? (which is the gold standard for true crime documentaries because it’s balanced and factually accurate) you have to conclude that it’s light years away from being anywhere near as good as Andrea Vogt’s documentary.

The producers haven’t made a balanced and objective documentary that lets the audience make up their own minds. As with all documentaries about people who have been convicted of murders they allegedly didn’t commit, the cherrypicked story is told primarily from the defence point of view.

This isn’t surprising - Damian Echols and his wife were two of the producers.

I strongly suspect this is also the reason why most of the evidence that led to the convictions of the WM3 is completely ignored. When I found this out, I felt that the producers had been sly and dishonest. Their commitment is clearly to the WM3 - and not the truth. 

If you want to have an informed opinion on the WM3 and to understand why they were convicted, you need to read the official court documents and witness statements, and then consider all the pieces of evidence as a whole.

When you research the case for yourself, you will discover that Damian Echols didn’t become a suspect because he wore black, was different, and a bit of an outsider.

When he was questioned in connection with the murder of the three boys, he failed a polygraph test.

A ten question polygraph test was formulated and three polygraph charts were conducted. The test contained the following relevant questions:

Q.#3. At any time wednesday or wednesday night, were you in robin hood hills? “No”

Q.#5. Were you present when those boys were killed? “No”

Q.#7. Did you kill any of those three boys? “No”

Q.#9. Do you know who killed those three boys? “No”

Q.#10.do you suspect anyone of having killed those three boys? “No”

It is the opinion of this polygraph examiner that this subject recorded significant responses indicative of deception when he answered the above listed relevant questions in the manner noted.

Conclusion: deception indicated.

By reading the official court documents, you will also discover that Echols knew specific details about the crime.

“Detective Bryn Ridge testified that Echols said he understood the victims had been mutilated, with one being cut up more than the others, and that they had drowned. Ridge testified that when Echols made the statement, the fact that Christopher Byers had been mutilated more than the other two victims was not known by the public. The jury could have reasonably concluded that Echols would not have known this fact unless he were involved in some manner.

“Echols took the witness stand, and his testimony contained additional evidence of guilt. When asked about his statement that one victim was mutilated more than the others, he said he learned the fact from newspaper accounts. His attorney showed him the newspaper articles about the murders. On cross-examination, Echols admitted that the articles did not mention one victim being mutilated more than the others, and he admitted that he did not read such a fact in a newspaper.”

(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas)



Above: Judge (now State Senator) David Burnett

The police obtained further corroboration that Damian Echols had been involved in the murder of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Chris Byers when his friend Jessie Misskelley told them that he, Echols and Jason Baldwin had attacked and killed the boys.

“On June 3, or almost one month after the murders, Detective Mike Allen asked Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr., about the murders. Misskelley was not a suspect at the time, but Echols was, and it was thought that Misskelley might give some valuable information about Echols. Detective Allen had been told all three engaged in cult-like activities. Misskelley made two statements to the detective that implicated Echols and Baldwin, as well as himself. The statements can be found in Misskelley v. State, 323 Ark. 449, 459-61, 915 S.W.2d 702, 707-08 (1996).”

(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas).

It should be noted that Jessie Misskelley repeatedly claimed that he, Echols and Baldwin had killed the boys before and after he was convicted. On one occasion, he confessed despite being warned not to by his lawyer.

This should trouble anyone who believes the WM3 are innocent because Misskelley wasn’t threatened or promised any deal by the investigators.

He may have a low IQ, but he wasn’t hallucinating when he made these confessions. In short, they were voluntary statements made over a significant period of time - from 3 June 1993 to 17 February 1994.

Furthermore, Misskelley also knew specific details about the crime. He told the police that Christopher Byers had been castrated in an interview on 3 June 1993.

RIDGES: Cutting him in the face. Alright, another boy was cut I understand.  Where was he cut at?

JESSIE: At the bottom

RIDGE: On his bottom? Was he faced down and he was cutting on him, or

JESSIE: He was

GITCHELL: Now you’re talking about bottom, do you mean right here?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: In his groin area?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: Okay

RIDGE: Do you know what his penis is?

JESSIE: Yeah, that’s where he was cut at.

RIDGE: That’s where he was cut.

GITCHELL: Which boy was that?

JESSIE: That one right there.

GITCHELL: You’re talking about the Byers boy again?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: Okay

RIDGE: Are you sure that he was the one that was cut?

JESSIE: That’s the one that I seen them cutting on.

RIDGE: Alright, you know what a penis is?

JESSIE: Yeah

RIDGE: Alright, is that where he was cutting?

JESSIE: That’s where I seen them going down at, and he was on his back. I seen them going down right there real close to his penis and stuff and I saw some blood and that’s when I took off.

Jessie Misskelley’s claim that Christopher Byers was castrated was corroborated by the autopsy report.

“The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes were missing. There was a large gaping defect measuring 2 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. The shaft of the penis was present and measured 2 inches in length. The gaping defect was surrounded by multiple and extensive irregular punctate gouging type injuries measuring from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch and had a depth of penetration of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.”

In West of Memphis, it’s claimed that turtles might be responsible for the missing genitals. I found this theory to be fanciful to say the least.

According to the medical examiner, Chris Byers bled to death because his genitals had been mutilated and partially removed. I believe Jessie Miskelley that this happened before he was thrown into the ditch.



Above: the courthouse about 100 miles north of West Memphis

In the same interview, Jessie Misskelley told the police officers that one of the boys was cut in his face.

RIDGE: Okay, now when this is going on, when this is taking place, you saw somebody with a knife. Who had a knife?

JESSIE: Jason

RIDGE: Jason had a knife, what did he cut with the knife. What did you see him cut or who did you see him cut?

JESSIE: I saw him cut one of the little boys

RIDGE: Alright, where did he cut him at?

JESSIE: He was cutting him in the face.

Prosecutor John Fogleman highlighted the fact that Jessie Misskelley knew facts that nobody else knew in his closing argument. He pointed out that Misskelley knew one of the boys had been cut in the fact and that this specific detail wasn’t mentioned in any of the newspapers.

Nothing in there [the newspapers] about a boy being cut in the face. Said they were beat up real bad, but nothing, nothing in there about somebody being cut in the face. He [Jessie Misskelley] says, “Yes, one of them was cut in the face.”

Jessie Misskelley also claimed that Damian Echols grabbed one of the boys by the ear and that the ear was discoloured as a result.

MISSKELLEY: He [Damian Echols] grabbed one of’m by the ear, I don’t know which one, he grabbed on of’m by the ear trying to pull his ear off or something. He grabbed’m pretty tight. It turned kind of red.

This was also corroborated by the autopsy report for Chris Byers. According to the report, he suffered injuries to his right ear:

“Head Injuries:

The right ear was abraded and contused. The inferior aspect of the right ear showed multiple linear abrasions measuring 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch.”

When you find out the three boys were stripped and two of them had injuries to their genitals, it’s natural to assume there must have been a sexual motive. Jessie Misskelley told the police that Damian Echols and Jason Baldwin sexually assaulted two of the boys.

JESSIE: Then they [Damian Echols and Jason Baldwin] tied them up, tied their hands up, they started screwing them and stuff, cutting them and stuff, and I saw it and turned around and looked, and then I took off running, I went home, then they called me and asked me, how come I didn’t stay, I told them, I just couldn’t.

John Fogleman also drew the jury’s attention to the fact that Jessie Misskelley knew that two of the boys had been sexually assaulted - something that was also corroborated by the autopsy reports. Chris Byers and Steve Branch had injuries to their genitals.

Finally, in talking about the boys being sexually abused, Inspector Gitchell says, “So they both did it to all three of the boys?” Jessie: “Just them two as far as I know.”



Above: bridge west from Memphis; crime scene is just one mile ahead

According to Lisa Sakevicius - a criminalist from the state lab - the three victims were tied with three different knots.

Her testimony would seem to rule out that the three boys were killed by a single attacker and indicate there were three attackers.

Jessie Misskelley didn’t just confess to the police. According to his friend Buddy Lucas, Misskelley also confessed to him.

Lucas - so we sit there, sit there, and I said, he said man me jason and damien we went walking last night in the town of west memphis, I said why didn’t you all come by and get me? we will we uh, we were in a hurry and everything go up there and come back home. I said alright I understand (inaudible) now since I found out I’m kinda glad he didn’t come by and get me

Ridge - okay, what did he tell you he do?

Lucas - we…. he told me that uh, that he got in a fight, that’s what he told me at first

Ridge - okay

Lucas - I said damien and jason they helped you? He said um-yea and everything so I said well did you all hurt anybody? And he said yea, I didn’t think it was those 8 year old kids or anything, so I turn around and come to found out that jason he was with jason and damien when they sacrificed them little kids. I was come and tell you all

Ridge - he tells you he’s in some trouble?

Lucas - uh-huh

Ridge - and what did he tell you he was in trouble over?

Lucas - that he really, he said um, we hurt, uh…. uh we hurt a couple of boys, that jason and damien killed

Ridge - okay

Lucas - couple, I said was you involved? He said yea, I said what did you do? I finally got it talked out of him what did he do, he said I hit uh, a couple in the back of the head

Ridge - okay, and

Lucas - and everything to keep them from running and everything

Ridge - and that’s what he told you?

Lucas - yes sir

Two witnesses claimed that Damian Echols admitted he had killing the three boys.

Twelve-year-old Christy VanVickle testified that she heard Echols say he “killed the three boys.” Fifteen-year-old Jackie Medford testified that she heard Echols say, “I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m going to kill two more, and I already have one of them picked out.”

The testimony of these two independent witnesses was direct evidence of the statement by Echols. These witnesses were cross-examined by Echols counsel, and it was the jury’s province to weigh their credibility.

(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas).




5. Alternative perp Terry Hobbs

The producers of West of Memphis make a case for Terry Hobbs - the stepfather of Steve Branch - being the killer and that his friend David Jacoby was a possible accomplice. However, Hamish McKenzie points out in an article for The Atlantic that the filmmakers are guilty of hypocrisy.

“But the rave reviews miss a dangerous hypocrisy at the heart of the film, which was paid for and produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg. In their quest to clear the names of the “West Memphis Three"—Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. who were teenagers when they were convicted for the 1993 killings—the filmmakers decide that they have found the actual murderer: Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the murdered boys. And in publicly making the case against him, they perpetrate a similar sort of injustice to the one they originally set out to correct: relying on questionable evidence to prosecute in the court of public opinion.”

The producers of West of Memphis point the finger at Hobbs because he has a history of domestic violence, he gave inconistent alibis and they think two hairs found at the crime scene implicate him and his friend Jacoby. However, Thomas Fedor, one of the defence experts, called the hairs weak evidence.

“The two hairs that I know about – the one that could have in fact come from Mr. Hobbs and the one that could have in fact come from David Jacoby – constitute what I call weak evidence. Because there are other people it could have come from and there isn’t any way to really prove our selection of possible sources for that hair.

I don’t think – my personal opinion – I don’t think that that hair evidence would be enough to convict Mr. Hobbs or Mr. Jacoby or anyone that would be in a similar situation because it’s simply not strong enough.

The percentages I gave of people who could be the source of those hairs are 1.5% of the population in the respect to one hair and 7% in respect to the other hair. That’s not particularly strong evidence and especially in the context of what most people are accustomed to with DNA testing.” (Thomas Fedor, Forensic Serologist).


6. Some conclusions

Concluding the WM3 are innocent on the basis of watching West of Memphis would be like concluding Amanda Knox is innocent after reading Waiting to Be Heard. The documentary is clearly biased and one-sided.

The producers did not address most of the evidence that led to the convictions of the WM3 let alone refute it. This is not surprising when you consider the fact that Damian Echols is one of the producers.

The defence lawyers assessed the evidence and recommended that their clients accept a court judgement of guilt. Surely if there was no credible evidence against the WM3 they would have opted for a new trial. If they had been found not guilty, they would have been able to sue the state for millions of dollars.

The supposedly exculpatory evidence was that some DNA was recovered from the crime scene was not attributable to any of the victims or the WM3. Since it is not known to whom that DNA belongs, one cannot say what that person’s role, if any, was and whether the evidence would help the defendants.




Above: from freeway, crime scene is by a creek within trees in left background

7. Valuable Sources

Click: ‘West Memphis Three’ freed after 18 years in prison

Click: Damien Echols: Statements and Polygraph Reports (May 9-10, 1993)

Click: Supreme Court of Arkansas

Click: Closing Argument of John Fogleman

Click: Damien Echols - mental health records - Exhibit 500

Click: Peter Jackson’s West of Memphis: the tale of three wronged men

Click: Damien Echols: how I survived death row

Click: West Memphis Three Facts

Click: The Unsettling Recklessness of Peter Jackson’s ‘West of Memphis’

Click: Misskelley v. State

Click: Statement of Jessie L. Misskelley, Jr. (June 3, 1993 at 2:44 P.M.)

Click: Statement of Jessie Misskelley, Jr. February 17, 1994

Click: Autopsy report for Steven Branch

Click: Autopsy report for Chris Byers

Click: Autopsy report for Michael Moore

Click: Lisa Sakevicius’s testimony

Click: A Skeptic’s Guide To The West Memphis Three Documentaries

Click: Is Amanda Knox Guilty?


[Below: The crime scene about 1 mile west of Memphis - warning, images of the murdered boys are included]


Posted by The Machine on 08/25/16 at 12:32 AM in Justice systemsUS etc systemsThe wider contextsN America context


Comments

The Machine really digs up stuff that is important. I could never believe this crime could be all the act of one man. The crimescene and autopsies (and knots) point to several. .

Nor can I believe that movie celebrities have any kind of infallibility, or even strong intelligence of the right kind for that matter. (Johnny Depp was a faux cop in the TV series 21 Jump Street; he needs to forget that.)

The pro-three campaign is very like that by Doug Preston re the Monster of Florence killer. Like Peter Jackson, Preston was determined to nail someone (for his own profit) who the police KNEW could not have been involved.

I was kinda startled to find I have been several times within 100 yards of the crime scene.

Two road bridges head west from Memphis, and just after their two freeways merge, about a mile further west, there is the crime scene, to the left, behind a vacant lot and a hotel now.

Here are the Google Earth coordinates:  35° 9’40.74"N   90°10’19.02"W

The boys came from the housing area in the background. Most of the trees have been cut down now. That’s a picnic area right across the freeway. The hotel was built recently.

When the kids actively played there, they called the area “Robin Hood” and the crime is often called the Robin Hood crime now as the West Memphis Three are off the hook (sort of). 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/25/16 at 07:34 AM | #

There’s a Tom Cruise movie (The Firm, which he finds is a mafia front) which largely takes place in an office building on the Memphis waterfront. It would look straight across at the crime scene.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/25/16 at 09:17 AM | #

Very illuminating article.  How important it is to really scrutinise what I watch and read.
I’ve also noticed that Damien Echols has done his share of interviews. Just like Knox, “cover up, police mistakes, I was picked on, I was a suspect because I read Stephen King novels”.  He has a guilty look written all over his face just like Knox. And just like Knox, zero words for the victims.

Posted by DavidB on 08/26/16 at 12:36 AM | #

Great article, The Machine. Here’s a great site for those wanting to get to the facts of the case http://www.westmemphisthreefacts.com/

Here’s Damien Echols taunting the victims families, rather like someone we know https://www.facebook.com/WestMemphisThreeFacts/photos/pb.529927327026736.-2207520000.1466015071./1218243208195141/?type=3&theater;

It’s a fact the WM3 presented “no new evidence, as promised” but opted for the Alford plea instead of trying to prove their innocence.

As an aside here’s a disillusioned supporter referring to the people who set up the WM3.ORG site (referred to as “KGB” from their initials). “I was lied to over and over by supporters, the KGB, and consistently withheld information on that side. Once I “became a non” I was offered a wealth of information, never once misled, and never once forced to believe the same as anyone else. I never got that when I was a supporter.” Again, reminiscent of the FOA and what we tried to present, in contrast.

One last similar point, which WM3 supporters keep pushing. The “Satanic ritual” argument. The prosecution presented Echols as a dabbler in many alternative belief systems, not just the occult, which has nothing to with the motivations of the crime. The Peter Jackson documentary misrepresent the trial as part of a “Satanic panic” which is not proved in the trial documents. Perhaps to appeal to audience prejudices? Fact, as The Machine points out, it was an expression of Echol’s mental illness.

Posted by Ergon on 08/26/16 at 01:04 PM | #

Good one Ergon

There sure is plenty to read. I have the Jackson movie but have not watched it yet. The Machine picked good sources, none are biased, all are cool.

Talking of disillusionment the one-star reviews on IMDB for this movie are worth a read. Here is one:

Echols has a production credit. This is not an unbiased account. 2/10
Author: neil-arsenal from Thailand
8 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Documentaries are a genre close to my heart. It is difficult for the makers not to show bias one way or the other. However, it must be kept to a minimum for the sake of credibility.

The Executive Producer for this movie was…Damien Echols.

How can this even begin to be classed as an unbiased account? Anything he says is treated as gospel. A casual viewer would believe him. Hey, this is a documentary, right? Wrong. It’s propaganda.

Echols lies. And it can easily be proved. His defence team also became desperate. Examples?

1. “I was scared of being stabbed in jail. I was continually raped.” The only problem with this is that he states he was in solitary 24/7 365.

2. “My lawyers let me down as I had an alibi but they didn’t call them to the stand.” Again, another lie. His alibi (“I was on the phone with 3 different people”) has been shot down. Those people have not given the police the correct info. His lawyers didn’t call these witnesses as they would’ve helped the prosecution. Echols then tried to change his alibi a few times. And was caught out every single time. Misskelly’s alibi was also shot to pieces (wrestling ticket was for a different week and the place was closed that day). Baldwin didn’t even bother with an alibi.

3. Witnesses saw Echols leaving the area of the killings full of mud by a family in car. Again, you’ll find this non existent in the ‘documentaries’. I include ‘Paradise Lost’ in this list.

4. Two girls took the stand and said Echols bragged about the murders in a park. He called the girls ‘liars’. Later, he admitted he did say this. But he was only joking (purrlease).

5. Misskelly confessed several times. Around half a dozen times. Not once after 10 (then 12 then 17 hours as Echol’s sheep claim) hours. Mulitple times. Even months later. He called his own lawyer. That’s right. Misskelly requested the chance to get it all off his chest. His lawyer begged him not to. Was that a forced confession? His early confessions revealed knowledge of the crime scene. Echols was also caught out on this. Search and you’ll find it.

6. Desperate acts by the defence team. First, trying to blame a mystery man nicknamed ‘Bojangles’. Then, Paradise Lost 2 spent the entire movie throwing mud at Byers (one of the fathers of the victims). That failed. It was so obvious it wasn’t Byers they are trying to blame Hobbs (another father). DNA is the shout from the Echols camp. Sadly (for them) it’s a single hair on a shoelace. The kids regularly played at his home and secondary transfer would actually be quite probable. Even if it is his hair (which also can’t be proved 100%).

7. The kids were killed elsewhere. The lack of blood at the crime scene indicated that (so say Echols and the defence team). Well, they are blaming Hobbs. That means he stripped them, killed them and then must have took their bodies to the woods. Only problem with that is that the kid’s clothes were staked into the water with a stick. So, Hobbs must’ve taken their clothes with him too. Or dressed them and undressed them in the woods post mortem. Utterly ridiculous. That’s why the police are not interested in Hobbs.

8. Echols claims he only suffered with depression as a teenager and had no problems with the law (on Piers Morgan’s show). That is a huge lie. His medical records are on the internet at a website called ‘Callaghan’. Many health professionals (not just one as Echols claims) have entered their findings. Most of which pre dates the crime. Not as Echols states…after the crime to get him off the death penalty. The reports are actually quite revealing. Arson. Animal cruelty (killing animals including dogs). Thinking he was god. Believing he was possessed by a spirit. Biting peers and drinking their blood. Wanting to sacrifice his unborn child to the devil. These were written by healthcare officials BEFORE his arrest. He was also pulled for public masturbation a few weeks before the murders.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/26/16 at 03:30 PM | #

I watched the WM3 documentary on Netflix. It is terrible.

I’m flabbergasted at the wrongheaded ignorance of Jackson, Depp et al. It would be easy to do one of those thirty paragraph debunking pieces on this travesty of a documentary but I don’t have the inclination.

Ive done a bit of Youtubing to get a handle on Echols (as well as looking at some of the links kindly provided by The Machine and others) and it’s obvious he is a very disturbed man. The ringleader without a doubt.

There is something at play in those dark, shark like eyes that convey only malevolent intent. He is a chilling individual indeed. I find it inconceivable that he will be able to keep a lid on his disturbed nature and his idiot, death row groupie, wife will most likely be the one to pay. Most likely with her life.

Terry Hobbs, a deeply unpleasant individual himself, is guilty of nothing more than lying to cover up the things about him that he knew would show him to be the wife and child beating thug that he is. A thug he is but not a murderer. Not that we know of, anyway. And certainly not the killer of the three little boys in this case.

He was trying to make a fortune out of suing Natalie Maines at that time, seeing a chance for some easy money. The video evidence from that case shows him to be the slow witted redneck that he is.

Ironically he was right in his assertion that his character had been defamed by Maines but knowing what we now know about him, it’s hard to see how a character that is so low grade could really be defamed anyway! He lied under questioning and was hoisted by his own petard.

In an effort to do all my unpleasant viewing in one go, I’ve had a look at Knox’s latest two blog entries. She truly is running out of things to say. Some sentimental drivel about her grandmother and another meaningless piece of trash about tattoos is all she can come up with.

She did reveal that she has a tattoo that was designed specifically around her struggle with the Meredith case. One of the sycophants who regularly replies to her has asked if she will share the design to inspire others wrongly convicted. I’ll be interested to see if she does.

Given that she is prone to hinting as often as she can that she did this crime and nobody can touch her for it, I can’t believe that the tattoo is anything other than some kind of hint about her guilt also. It might even be enough to make her myopic supporters baulk if they saw it, hence it will remain secret I suspect. It it’s truly innocent like a dove flying free or something of that ilk, then I’m sure she’ll let us all see it. I’m not holding my breath.

Interestingly, she raises Madison’s name yet again. It’s always relating to things that have happened in the past though. I suspect this split with Madison has hurt her more than anything and my guess is the reason is entirely self serving.

I remain convinced that she unburdened herself to Madison regarding her involvement in Meredith’s murder (or at least hinted at it whilst drunk or tripped herself up on a previous lie she had told Madison; something of that nature) and is now terrified that her erstwhile best friend may turn on her at some point. I think the continual references to Madison are a childish attempt to reach out to her.

If I was Madison, I’d be afraid. Very afraid. I do hope she has written down somewhere exactly what her suspicions about Knox are and exactly why she feels like that. Just in case she doesn’t make it home some night…..

If that sounds fanciful, think on how at ease Knox has been in the company of drug dealers and people of low character in the past. She also has a talent for (or at least she did before time and lifestyle ravaged her once striking looks) bending men to her will in return for sexual favours.

It’s not much of a leap, for me at any rate, to think that her paranoia over Madison could grow to the extent where murder looks like the best option. Especially if you’re emboldened, as she is, by having done it before and gotten away with it.

Posted by davidmulhern on 08/28/16 at 12:16 AM | #

I have to say I didn’t know anything about this case although I’d heard of it.

Having read TM’s informative post I decided to dig a little bit and found what a bloody awful crime this is. Those poor boys, what they must have gone through at the hands of these monsters.
My heart goes out to their parents who probably are still suffering to this day.

Again, here we have innocence fraud helped along by our modern day mass media. I will never look at Johnny Depp in the same light again and we also have Marilyn Manson getting in on the act. How people seem to give killers credence due to celebrities attaching themselves to criminal cases is beyond my understanding.

We have Damien Echols who is clearly the ringleader and it is not for the reason of him being a Metallica fan or dressing in a Goth style, this is a cheap and weak excuse from his apologists that is quite frankly insulting to anyone with half a brain. People ignore his previous mental health record?

While reading TM’s piece it crossed my mind of any Amanda Knox connection and within a minute I found an image of Knox holding onto the killer’s ringleader and giving her customary inane grin to the camera just like her court appearances.

She has probably slept with him and maybe all three as she does seem to get her rocks off on this sort of thing and probably gave them advice on how to hoodwink the public and pervert the course of justice seeing how with the help of a PR company it surely seems to have worked for her - for now anyways.

@davidmulhern, amusing news regarding the chosen ones latest inane drivel to her adoring public, perhaps the tattoo is something subtle and symbolic depicting a young girl being stabbed in the neck with a large dagger?

Regarding Paxton, she will no doubt realise she is surplus to requirements now and realises she was used just like everybody else and more than likely got scared during their time living together.
Paxton fitted the part perfectly in the manufacture of Knox’s false home image. She was the super nerd student with the girly swot glasses and drab attire - but she was enticed so skilfully she fell in love with her and was strung along to the extent of living together on release but jettisoned when Amanda’s appetite for different male partners took prominence.

Maybe she will talk one day, I hope so but can’t see it happening soon as it will make her look easily led and stupid just like Knox’s other crawling and sycophantic followers.

Posted by Deathfish on 08/28/16 at 10:46 AM | #

I’ll bet it’s the tattoo she claims Mez gave her the afternoon before she was murdered.

Posted by Slow Jane on 08/28/16 at 01:42 PM | #

@Slow Jane, “she claims Mez gave her”
Indeed.
I find this highly questionable. In the warped mind of Knox, this is a gesture Knox claims happened in her attempt to paint a picture of everything being rosey in the garden between her and Meredith.

It is part of the “Meredith was my friend” fantasy and I simply do not believe it happened.

I cannot see Meredith drawing a tattoo on Knox’s arm on her way out to see her friends when the atmosphere between them in the house was frosty to say the least - and the stoned super creep Sollecito is sat there in the kitchen also. Meredith left the house pronto for good reason.

Posted by Deathfish on 08/28/16 at 02:53 PM | #

One thing about the murdering bitch Amanda Knox is that (like all murderers) the further away they get from the killing itself the more they forget which lies they told. Drip Drip Drip the Chinese torture works very well.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 08/29/16 at 04:00 AM | #

As if on cue, hopping on to the media bandwagon along comes a book from David C Anderson and Nigel P Scott,

http://www.watersidepress.co.uk/acatalog/Three-False-Convictions—Many-Lessons—9781909976351.html “THREE FALSE CONVICTIONS, MANY LESSONS: The Psychopathology of Unjust Prosecutions” to be released September.

“A new perspective on why false charges occur, proceed and persist which looks at the roles of psychopathology, confirmation bias, false confessions, the media and internet among other causes. Puts lack of empathy at the fore in terms of police, prosecutors and others whilst considering a wide range of other psychopathological aspects of false convictions. Based on first-hand knowledge or involvement.

What drives false but serious criminal charges and why do police and prosecutors often persist against those wrongly in the dock? As this book shows—by looking at three high profile cases, those of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (Italy), Stefan Kiszko (UK) and Darlie Routier (USA)—motive forces are a mind-set in which psychopathy (what the authors charitably term ‘constitutional negative empathy’) may be present and in which confirmation bias (the need to reinforce a decision once made or lose face) plays a large part.”

So the authors examine the psychopathy and ‘constitutional negative empathy’ of police and prosecutors but not that of the accused or themselves, cool. David Anderson being the man who wrote to the BBC ombudsman trying to get John Kercher Jr. fired because he thought he was Harry Rag in disguise and Nigel Scott being the person who escorted the accused murderer Sollecito to Meredith’s grave and posted a picture on Twitter.

Posted by Ergon on 08/30/16 at 12:28 PM | #

Also, speaking of bias, the Vanity Fair website http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/08/amanda-knox-netflix-documentary has a Judy Bachrach review of the upcoming Amanda Knox Netflix documentary.

“Most astonishing of all: last July, Blackhurst and McGinn also managed to persuade Giuliano Mignini, the Italian prosecutor who brought the tabloid-ready case to trial, to appear in their documentary Amanda Knox, which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival before being released by Netflix on September 30.

It is this last get that offers viewers one of the most astonishing scenes, when he blandly reveals an especially imaginative scenario. Amanda’s motive for the murder of a girl she scarcely knew, says the prosecutor, was her “lack of morality,” her desire for “pleasure at any cost,” which led her to wield a large knife “that teases then plunges” into her roommate’s neck.

Despite such lurid theorizing, Amanda Knox, unlike the bulk of nearly a decade’s worth of global press coverage around the case, refuses to editorialize, praise, or rebuke any of its protagonists, and that objective stance is precisely the strength of the film.”

“...the central characters of the drama feel free to say almost anything that’s on their minds. The results are illuminating. From Mignini, recalling his thoughts when evidence (which turned out to be tainted) supposedly revealed Sollecito’s DNA on the victim’s bra clasp, found only after 46 days on the floor: “I remember colleagues complimenting me and saying, ‘At this point there’s no hope for the two of them.’ . . . Complete strangers walked up to me and congratulated me and asked to shake my hand. It gives me satisfaction . . .”

*****

And this is my point. At a certain point in any case, all we have are competing narratives, and no book, no documentary, comes up with the “truth”.

Posted by Ergon on 08/30/16 at 12:41 PM | #

I’d forgotten about the fake tattoo that Meredith had supposedly given to her. Like Deathfish, I don’t buy it.

That would properly fit in with her modus operandi to try and link whatever this latest inking is with Meredith herself. What a self obsessesed, scheming little horror show she truly is.

Curt allegedly saw it in Perugia and asked her what it was so if she has based her new tattoo on the design and claims this to be the case, it would be nice if some of her family members saw it and could verify for themselves if she’s telling the truth for once. Even better if the truth of where it came from came to light and it turned out to have nothing to do with Meredith and another wee lie was exposed.

Then again, there can be little doubt that her family absolutely know to a person that she’s a murdering little harlot so it would make no difference. To them at any rate.

Maybe she’ll do her big reveal to coincide with the release of the documentary. Let’s hope it crashes and burns at the Toronto Film Festival.

Ergon makes a fair point about the competing narratives. The objective truth in this case will never be known, other than via a death bed confession by one of the three protagonists in 50 or 60 years time.

The version of the truth that we adhere to on this site is by a country mile the most plausible and the one that all of the evidence, when taken in totality, points to.

Those who have chosen to hitch their wagons to the Knox train are never likely to be persuaded. Anyone coming to the case (without prior knowledge) now, reading both competing narratives and the mountains of evidence, could not fail to see the guilt of the three reprobates involved. And also be aware of who the puppet master amongst the three is.

Guede was probably our last best hope of some proper truth from an actual eye witness and participant but his vain attempts to minimise his involvement and pave the way for a seamless re-entry into society, mean this is a forlorn hope too.

Meantime, Knox remains the only person I can think of that I could genuinely say hearing news of her grisly murder would please me greatly. It truly would. The subsequent movie, I’d gladly pay to go and see!

Posted by davidmulhern on 08/31/16 at 12:56 AM | #

I enjoyed reading TJMK today, good stuff all around. West Memphis Three are guilty as guilty can be. Actors are the last people to listen to in these matters. WM3 are a national disgrace, and crimes against children are beyond the pale.

Meanwhile, back at the Knox ranch, new comments here say she got a tattoo with reference to Meredith’s case. You can bet it’s steeped in guilty symbolism.

Also news that Dr. David Anderson has co-authored a book with Nigel Scott. Predictably those two blind zealots blame Knox’s “wrongful conviction” on police bad attitudes of negative bias mixed with fear and face-saving and basic dishonesty once they realize they’re wrong about a suspect. I don’t doubt the power of peer pressure among cops. But it’s the same for all people, the pressure to conform with a group opinion. Much much courage is needed to uphold truth, that part of Anderson’s book is plausible.

However, the very constraints of having to PROVE their opinions and findings in a court of law forces prosecutors to produce facts not suspicions. The court protects the truth to a great degree.

Poor Dr. Anderson is still fighting ghosts from his past. He had one tragic patient IIRC who was prosecuted and Dr. Anderson felt he failed to communicate with police some mitigating information on the guy. That haunts him, thus the book.

These myopic authors Anderson and Scott, Scott who took a murder suspect to see Meredith’s grave, let me guess what the book says: if only the police and public would be as trusting as children with suspects and with WM3 types. Embrace them, love them, support them. They never lie and underneath all the violent tidbits of their dysfunctional lives they’re simply misunderstood angels.

Dr. Anderson hosted the Mellas family at Anderson’s home in Italy. He may have a bone to pick with Italy on other fronts, which has morphed into his attack on their police work.

A hand across the waters of Nigel Scott in the UK returns Anderson to his roots. My surmise.
 

One comment is about Knox’s blog mentioning Madison and Knox’s new tattoo. I haven’t read her blog in ages, but Amanda’s grandmother and Madison are important to her.

The theory that Madison may have been privy to confessions or other information about Meredith’s death, or was made aware of Knox’s deceptive character while living with her after the crime, is a quite realistic theory. That Madison might be in peril from Knox is sadly not far from reality.

Knox is defiant and may one day act out again (think kill) just to mock those who refused to acknowledge her first crime which was a cry for power and attention. And meaning. She’s still searching for an identity.

Knox is probably as disgusted with the pusillanimous judgment that noticed her guilt but set her free as we are. She revels in it, the freedom part, but she must despise the dishonesty. It smacks too much of her own.

The Anderson and Scott book is about police bias which sees sinister stuff everywhere and then refuses to retract a false accusation: but compare that with Amanda’s friends or the loved ones of any criminal. Oh how quiet they get when a friend is accused of murder. Suddenly nobody wants to tell police anything about the friend’s real nature, for fear of getting them hanged.

The truth is shut down badly during the investigative stage, and not by police.

Truth is withheld from police based on human fear or friendship, and not for any noble goals of protecting society or finding truth and justice like the police seek to do.

It is human weakness, cowardice, love, guilt, every form of primitive human bias and false loyalty that unite to blur the truth about an individual by his friends. It often comes to outright lies as we heard from Edda on the stand in Perugia about a late night phone call. This stonewalling and lying are what police are up against from the start. Few of us want to suffer or cause a loved one to suffer, even for the truth. Simply to not lose a friendship, many will lie to stay in favor. To not lose a job, many will lie. To stay in good standing in society or church, many will dissemble. Truth is hard to find when stakes are high. 

I doubt Dr. Anderson wants to consider this tsunami of coverup that police swim against, as he brands their suspicious nature some form of psychopathy.

The only reason the Amanda Knox documentary coming to TV in September is worth watching, will be to see Mignini again.

Posted by Hopeful on 08/31/16 at 02:47 AM | #

Excellent, insightful comment yet again @Hopeful.

There’s no question old herpes lip herself reads these comments. It must be quite disconcerting to see your own character being so accurately portrayed and so skillfully and completely disassembled for all to see.

Keep it up everyone!

Posted by davidmulhern on 08/31/16 at 02:19 PM | #

Another interesting article on psychopathy in Forensics Magazine, this by Seth Augenstein

http://www.forensicmag.com/article/2016/09/psychopaths-feel-fear-not-danger

Psychopaths Feel Fear, But Not Danger

Seth Augenstein

“The belief is that they (psychopaths) have little to no regard for the rest of humanity around them. A mask disguises a void with no capacity for empathy or guilt.

The popular belief that that this complete disregard for others even extends to themselves: that they don’t feel fear.

But the latest research from a Dutch university has found psychopaths to function a bit differently than traditionally believed.

Psychopaths do indeed feel fear – they just can’t process immediate threats as competently as others do, according to the study published in the Psychological Bulletin.
...
FEAR, JUST NO FEAR CONDITIONING

But the new study indicates that the portrait of psychopathy is overly simplistic.

Psychopaths have deficiencies in their amygdala, as demonstrated in a lengthy series of studies. According to the literature, this has an impact on “threat conditioning” – most commonly known as “fear conditioning.” Consequently, psychopaths can’t as easily understand what pressing dangers there are around them.

But they do have the capacity, in the long-term, to feel concern and worry for their own safety, the authors contend.”

Hmm.

Posted by Ergon on 09/01/16 at 05:35 PM | #

Thanks, Ergon for directing us to recent, new research into Psychopaths, which concludes that their classic Cleckley definition is overly simplistic.

Although this is probably true, the new differences seem overly subtle to me. The authors say:

“...psychopaths can’t as easily understand what pressing dangers there are around them. But they do have the capacity, in the long-term, to feel concern and worry for their own safety.”

The notorious serial killers, of whom Bundy is a classic instance, may be at one extreme of a spectrum, but he was obviously exploiting the lack of awareness of his Victims, for his victim’s own safety.

Does that make his victims members of the Psychopathy Spectrum?  Wouldn’t that be a bit overly-subtle?

Posted by Cardiol MD on 09/02/16 at 07:41 PM | #

Interesting point.

In his documentary on a mass murder at a high-school Bowling For Columbine, the director Michael Moore had a major section (but no direct conclusion) on how American media in particular is hugely geared to whip up fear, both in the ads and the reports. It sells.

Moore showed example after example. I think right now for eg ISIS and illegal immigrants there is far more fear than they really “deserve”. Gun sales go up.

Those who go to horror movies and other fright movies quite possibly even enjoy the adrenaline rushes they get from fear. 

At the same time, way too many dont feel fear at all the wrong times. Many or most victims dont see it coming, and psychopaths work on that. See the terrible case of a trusting 17 year old here:

http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/article98193452.html

Bundy and many other psychopaths were immediately very trusted, and so could kidnap and kill with ease.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/03/16 at 04:01 AM | #

Hi, Cardiol MD. Interesting question you pose: do the victims lack of awareness place them on the Psychopathy Spectrum? I don’t know. People like Ted Bundy were accomplished manipulators who charmed their victims and perhaps mirrored their own emotional needs but that would place on the opposite end of the scale IMO.

But now having read the research it looks like psychopaths do have a greater degree of self-awareness than we previously thought, and there is evidence even in the cases of Bundy and the Moors murderers.

Ted Bundy: http://crimefeed.com/2015/06/inside-ted-bundys-head-10-cringeworthy-quotes-angel-decay/

“I don’t think anybody doubts whether I’ve done some bad things. The question is: what, of course, and how and, maybe even most importantly, why?”

Bundy’s attorney: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2149382/Former-defense-attorney-claims-serial-killer-Ted-Bundy-confessed-murdering-100-people-victim-MAN.html

“The most horrifying thing to Mr Browne, however, was that unlike other sociopaths who do not understand right and wrong, Bundy knew what he was doing.

‘Most sociopaths never admit they’re evil at all,’ said Mr Browne. ‘Ted really knew he was evil. Evil, evil, evil. And, believe me, really evil.’

Myra Hindley: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2256492/Myra-Hindley-admitted-worse-Ian-Brady-understood-right-wrong.html

on the one hand was completely nonchalant in her responses in court, then expressed fears of “assassination” “The interviews reveal that although Hindley believed Brady initiated the killings her attitude towards involvement shifted from ‘one of fear to one of a willing participant who enjoyed the feelings of affinity with Mr Brady which involvement in the offences afforded her’.
and ‘...although by the end I had become as corrupt as Ian was, there is a distinction…I did not instigate…but I knew the difference between right and wrong…I didn’t have a compulsion to kill…I wasn’t in charge…but in some ways I was more culpable because I knew better.’

I wonder about Knox. How was she able to convince so many supporters from the beginning to believe in her innocence because of her own ability to manipulate or because of assistance from the media?

I’m talking about people who knew her. Knox’s friend Madison Paxton, who no longer seems to be on speaking terms with her, her parents. Were they really convinced or chose to disregard the many clues? Her behaviour was very strange, for sure.

And she did display many of those delayed reactions to fear the research points out. She still, lives in fear.

Posted by Ergon on 09/03/16 at 03:01 PM | #


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