In a final report on DNA testing filed in the court of Second Judicial District Judge David N. Laser, mitochondrial DNA testing of hair found with crime scene evidence conclusively excludes Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley.
Most of the hairs tested were from the victims. However, one hair found with one of the victim’s blue jeans and wallet has a DNA profile that remains unidentified. In a DNA report filed last week, it was revealed that human DNA found on the shoes of murder victim Chris Byers also conclusively excluded the three men, but was linked to two unidentified male individuals.
According to the report, “Bode’s (Bode Technology) further comparative testing analysis also (once again) excludes Echols, Baldwin or Misskelley as the source of this new, non-victim hair.” A scientific analysis of the shoelaces used to bind the three children is expected shortly.
It was previously established that a hair found in the ligatures that bound one of the victims is linked to Terry Hobbs, stepfather of victim Stevie Branch. According to three new eyewitnesses who have come forward, Terry Hobbs was with the three children at his home at approximately 6:30 p.m., shortly before the boys disappeared and were murdered. Hobbs has denied under oath that he was with the children at any time on the day of their murders.
Capi Peck, co-founder of Arkansas Take Action, said, “This newly discovered DNA evidence that excludes Damien, Jason and Jessie, combined with all other evidence of their innocence, will hopefully lead to a new trial for the three young men who have now served close to 18 years in prison for a crime many Arkansans believe they did not commit.”
Tags: Arkansas Supreme Court, Arkansas Take Action, DA Dustin McDaniel, Damien Echols, death penalty, DNA testing, false confessions, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley, West Memphis 3, wrongful convictions