In the Court’s First Scheduling Order, issued by Second Judicial District Circuit Judge David N. Laser, the Judge ordered an evidentiary hearing for up to three weeks (continuous) to begin December 5, 2011. He further ordered that requests for DNA testing be made by motion within 15 days of the order issued March 14, 2011. He asks that all DNA and forensic testing ordered by the court to be completed and back in the court within 90 days. Concerning the juror misconduct issue, Laser asks attorneys and prosecutors to submit briefs by May 1, 2011.
Lorri Davis, Echols’s wife and co-founder of Arkansas Take Action, said, “We are very pleased that Judge David Laser has ordered a three-week continuous evidentiary hearing to review evidence of the innocence of Damien, Jason and Jessie. He clearly wants this case to move as expeditiously as possible. I am hopeful that upon a full review of the evidence there will finally be justice by years end. Every day in solitary confinement for Damien, and maximum-security imprisonment for Jason and Jessie, is a day in hell.”
Among the issues the court will be asked to review in establishing whether Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley deserve a new trial include DNA evidence, both existing and new material to be tested, alibi evidence, false confession evidence, juror misconduct evidence, forensic evidence covering cause of death and cause of injuries (animal predation), new witness statements, motive evidence, night of murder evidence, etc.
Damien Echols is on death row and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are serving life sentences in Arkansas. New DNA and forensic evidence as well as blatant juror misconduct involving Jessie Misskeley’s false confession are key issues in determining their innocence. These young men have already served 17 years in prison for a crime others committed.