Arkansas Supreme Court Approves DNA Testing in 30-Year-Old Arkansas Murder Case  

By Praniti Gulyani

LITTLE ROCK, AR— The Arkansas Supreme Court last Thursday said “a judge wrongly denied a request for new genetic testing of crime scene evidence from the killing of three boys nearly 30 years ago,” the Associated Press reported.

The AP story described how, in a 4-3 decision, “the court reversed the 2022 ruling denying the request to test evidence from the 1993 crime scene where three eight-year-old boys were found brutally slain in a drainage ditch near West Memphis.”

And the murder, as noted by The Arkansas Democratic Gazette, was “one of Arkansas’s most notorious murder cases.”

As per the article, “the additional testing was sought by Damien Echols, one of the three men convicted in the slayings.”

Describing the convictions achieved in the killings, AP said, “Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley were convicted in 1994 but released in 2011 under a rarely used plea agreement that allowed them to maintain their innocence yet plead guilty in exchange for 18-year sentences and credit for time served.”

As per a report by the Arkansas-Democratic Gazette, the three men were granted immediate freedom under a deal known as an Alford Plea. They “were released in 2011, and have been working to clear their names since. No DNA evidence ever linked them to the murders of the three 8-year-old boys — Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore.”

The article by the AP noted Echols’s statement, “We appreciate the (Arkansas Supreme Court) giving this ruling and hope we can now once and for all solve this case, clear our names and find the person responsible for carrying out these horrendous crimes. This is monumental.”

About The Author

Praniti Gulyani is a second-year student at UC Berkeley majoring in English with minor(s) in Creative Writing and Journalism. During her time at The Davis Vanguard as a Court Watch Intern and Opinion(s) Columnist for her weekly column, ‘The Student Vanguard' within the organization, she hopes to create content that brings the attention of the general reader to everyday injustice issues that need to be addressed immediately. After college, she hopes to work as a writer or a columnist in a newspaper or magazine, using the skills that she gains during her time at The Davis Vanguard to reach a wider audience.

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