Crittenden County Circuit Court Judge Victor L. Hill has ruled that District Prosecutor Scott Ellington, who was party to the Alford plea that led to the release of the West Memphis 3, should continue his investigation into new evidence submitted to him by Damien Echols’s defense team.
In Judge Hill’s decsion dated October 29, 2012, he wrote:
“The only issue here, in the court’s view, is whether the court finds Ellington’s claim of an investigation to be credible. While the fact that others have pled guilty to the Robin Hood Hills murders is relevant, as to whether this is a closed issue that is not determinative. The prosecutor has the right and obligation to ascertain whether a miscarriage of justice might have occurred, or whether there were others who might have acted in concert with those who pled guilty, but who have, as yet, not been brought to justice. That is his prerogative and he might even be said to derelict in that duty if he failed to conduct such an investigation.”
Echols’s defense team received new evidence in the form of sworn affidavits in which Terry Hobbs’ nephew, Michael Hobbs Jr., allegedly told his friends “my uncle Terry murdered those three little boys,” The three new witnesses passed polygraph tests about what they stated Michael Hobbs, Jr. told them.
“One day Michael picked us up in his truck. He was very quiet and upset. Michael then said to us, ‘you are not going to believe what my dad told me today. My Uncle Terry murdered the three little boys.’ According to Michael, his dad called this ‘The Hobbs Family Secret’ and he asked us to keep it a secret and not tell anyone.”
Echols’s attorney Patrick Benca said, “Prosecutor Ellington had agreed to investigate these allegations and the court is encouraging him to move ahead with some very strong language suggesting that he has an ‘obligation’ to determine whether or not there was a ‘miscarriage of justice’ in the conviction of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley.”
“The defense has submitted evidence to Scott Ellington and we have additional leads that we are prepared to present to him and his team. Additionally, we have asked the West Memphis Police Department to turn over any confidential calls that they have received concerning who might have been responsible for the murders of Stevie Branch, Chris Byers and Michael Moore. While the WMPD has rejected our request for that information, we ask that they turn the information over to prosecutor Ellington for review as soon as possible.”
Benca also suggests that anyone who has called the West Memphis Police Department with information about the WM3 case, please contact the defense team’s WM3 Confidential Tip Line at (501) 256-1775. “There still remains a $200,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murders of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers.”