In his motion for a new trial, Damien Echols submitted a “Brief on The Admissibility of Evidence of Juror Misconduct,” in which he asks presiding Judge David Laser to admit evidence of juror misconduct at his first trial in this proceeding. He also asks the judge to conduct oral arguments and allow testimony at the hearing scheduled to begin December 5, 2011.
The filing goes into detail about how police obtained Misskelley’s so-called confession during his interrogation, how the prosecution introduced it via news reports prior to the trials, and how the jury came to consider the inadmissible “confession” during its deliberations.
The filing includes shocking evidence that the jury foreman at the Echols/Baldwin trial, Kent Arnold, allegedly lied to the court during jury selection so that he would be sure to be selected and that he allegedly introduced Misskelley’s false confession into jury deliberations although it was constitutionally barred from consideration because Misskelley refused to testify.
Lloyd Warford, a prominent Arkansas attorney, former prosecutor, and state official, submitted a sworn affidavit detailing a dozen improper conversations that Kent Arnold held with him while the original trial was in progress, clearly violating the law and the rights of Echols and Baldwin to a fair and impartial trial. In those conversations, juror Arnold indicates that he had prejudged Echols’s guilt and was trying to convince other jurors to convict them based upon news reports of the false confession of Misskelley, portions of which had even been published in newspapers before the trial.
During one conversation, Arnold informed attorney Warford that the prosecution had presented a weak case and that the prosecution had better present something powerful the next day (the end of the prosecution’s case) or it would be up to him to secure a conviction.
In a separate filing, attorneys for Baldwin, state, “Baldwin has tendered ample evidence of misconduct by his original jury as part of his Petition/Motion for New Trial, including the record of the jury selection, affidavits, juror notes, and other evidence demonstrating that the original verdict was tainted by misconduct.”
Lorri Davis, wife of Echols and co-founder of Arkansas Take Action, said, “We ask the court to consider the seriousness of the juror misconduct in Jason and Damien’s trial, as well as the evidence that Jessie Misskelley’s confession was just plain false.”