Jonesboro, AR- In a shocking development, four days following the first installment of the West Memphis Three on www.blinkoncrime.com, on August 19, 2011 Damien Echols, Charles Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley, through an Alford plea, were convicted of three counts of first degree murder following an agreement made by Prosecutor Scott Ellington and their respective defense attorneys for the murders of eight year old boys James Michael Moore, Christopher Byers ( Murray) and Stevie Branch.
Judge David N. Laser agreed to and imposed suspended sentences for time served to Echols, Miskelley and Baldwin; all were released and immediately declared their innocence during the ensuing press conference.
In Part I of our series, we touched briefly on the development of new evidence and possible murder weapon, the blue handled- mountain ice axe, which inexplicably was never presented at trial. It had been admitted into evidence after being retrieved from its owner, following it’s return by Jason Baldwin’s, younger brother Mathew.
Requests to confirm whether or not the ice axe was maintained in evidence at West Memphis Police Department were non-responsive at the time of this publication. Part II continues first with what the jury never heard. A podcast of my interview on the case following the release of the WM3 can be found here.
One of the larger points of contention in the murders was the lack of blood evidence at the scene. The lack of blood or blood spatter at the scene with such gruesome injuries spawned the defense theory the ditch was a dump site or secondary crime scene. This was largely due to the fact that the jury would never hear about the results of luminol tests; it was suppressed by motion of the defense In both trials.
Luminol enhanced chemiluminesence (LCL) technology in 1993 was geared toward examining items of evidence in a lab under black light for optimum photographic results, or its secondary application for use in an enclosed environment which can be manually darkened and a portable black light ( we now call this an alternative light source or ALS) brought to the scene.
LCL when sprayed onto a surface containing remnants of blood, or more specifically the iron in blood, will create a glowing reaction when iron, invisible to the naked eye, is present.
In 1993 under Arkansas law, Luminol testing was considered new, novel, and not accepted as scientific evidence.
While the methods for collection, testing and controls have advanced significantly since 1993 and LCL testing is widely used in criminal case work, analysis of the findings in the instant case flatly dispute the notion that there was no blood associated with the crime scene along the ditch bank of Robin Hood Hills.
Contrary to the misconception that there was no evidence of blood at the scene, the results of two consecutive days of luminol tests at the scene were enlightening.
As Kermit Channell and Donald Smith, from the Arkansas crime lab could not bring the “outside in” they were forced to set up shop in the woods along the banks of the ditch. Also present for testing both days were WMPD Detectives Mike Allen, Tony Anderson and Bryn Ridge.
Donald Smith’s report below in it’s entirety below, The other reports can be found here.
STATE CRIME LABORATORY
P.O. Box 5274
Number 3 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas 72215
REPORT OF LABORATORY ANALYSIS
Investigating Officer / Agency / Address
Sgt. Mike Allen
West Memphis Police Department
100 Court Street
West Memphis, AR 72301
Laboratory Case Number: 93-05717
Date Received in Lab: 05/07/93
How Evidence Received: M E / Matthew Elliott
Agency Case Number:
Steve Edward Branch
Date of Report; 06/10/93
FIELD INVESTIGATION. WEST MEMPHIS TRIPLE HOMICIDE. MAY 12 and
MAY 13. 1993 LUMINOL:
This analyst and Kermit Channell, Serologist responded to request to perform luminol on
a potential crime scene area on May 12, 1993. We left that afternoon, arriving in West
Memphis at approximately 6:30 P.M., proceeding to the Police Department.
Officers Tony Anderson, Brian Ridge, and Mike Allen accompanied Kermit and myself
to a swampy area in the northern edge of West Memphis where the victims were found.
A general survey of the area in the daylight hours was conducted. Approaching darkness
fresh solutions of luminol reagent were prepared. When the area became dark, using
flashlights for light support, the part returned to the area and proceeded to spray and
locate areas of luminol light emission activity, a presumptive test for the presence of
trace quantities of blood. The following observations were noted:
(1) At a trail along a stream bed an approximately 11 foot high bluff overlooking the
stream positive reactions were noted on either side of a tree with more reaction noted to
the right side of the tree, facing the stream bed.
(2) An Area with used plastic sheeting west of the trail and the bluff gave more positive
reactions were noted.
(3) At the west bank of the stream bed, to the right of some trees, an area gave positive
reaction. It was explained by the Police Department that this was where two of the
victims were placed when they were recovered from the stream bed.
(4) In the stream bed, below the described (at one time) water line, positive luminol tests
indicated where one of the victims was found in the water as related by the West
Memphis Police Department.
(5) On the east bank of the stream bed were a pile of sticks and a depression in the soil
where luminol tests showed a concentrated area of positive reaction.
(6) North of this point luminol tests gave positive reaction to a large area of
concentration (described by West Memphis Police Department where the third victims
was placed upon recovery from the water).
(7) North of the point #6 near some tree roots, another large area of concentration of the
luminol reaction was noted.
(8) Trace amounts of positive luminol reaction was noted on the slope west of the area
where two of the victims were recovered and placed. (reference area #3). The areas north
and south of where the third victims had been placed (5) and (6) were unaccountable
known activity by the Memphis Police Department or rescue / recovery operations.
From these areas of noted luminol reactions for the presumptive presence of trace
amounts of blood the following opinion is rendered:
The traces of presumed blood detected along the trail (2), and at the bluff (1), and one the
slope (8) appear to be transfer of blood by the rescue and recovery teams.
Reaction in the areas where the recovered victims were placed is the apparent result of
trace blood transfer from the victims (3) and (6).
The area below the water level on the west side of the stream was accounted as where
trace amounts of the victimís blood diffused into the mud in the stream bed.
The areas (5) and (7) indicate activity prior to recovery of the victims and relate to
activity to the victims when perhaps they were being attacked.
It should be noted that the luminol testing was performed some days after the discovery
of the victims and at least one rainfall had occurred. There were no visible signs or
indication of blood at any of the locations that we investigated.
Upon the group returning that night to the police headquarters Inspector Gitchell and his
staff were advised of our findings. It is our opinion the crime had taken place where the
bodies of the victims were recovered. Inspector Gitchell was further advised of the
inability to document the luminol reaction of the evening because of the light leaks from
stars and the back scattered light from West Memphis. To document the luminescence
Inspector Gitchell was advised that we would have to place tenting over the areas of
interest and to block out all stray light possible.
The luminescence requires near total darkness to document luminol reactions in the open
It was decided that Kermit and I should stay over the next day perform the tests again
and photograph them.
The morning of May 13, Inspector Gitchell provided us with equipment, supplies and
manpower needed to document the areas of positive luminol reaction. A test with plastic
covering over the canvas was erected and photographs were taken of the positive areas
noted of the previous evening again with fresh luminol application.
Because of the limitations due to some light leakage, physical activity in the area
destroying some of the reaction, the weather conditions of some light rain the night
before and the originally low concentration levels in the areas on the bluff (area #1), along
the trail (area #2), where the victims were placed (area #3), and the area in the stream bed
where the body was recovered (area #4) and the area above the recovery area (area #8)
we were not able to document photography as we observed these areas the evening of
The tented area over the areas where the victim’s body was placed (#6) and the
questioned area (#5), subdued the light to a degree that a less than perfect photograph
could be obtained. These photographs still documented the areas of interest, showing
luminol reaction in respective areas. These photographs were without the benefit of flash
painting application to reference the areas photographed. A still photo of the questioned
area from the original camera tripod location does reference the questioned area. The
photographs were processed revealing the luminol reaction at areas where the victim was
place (#6) and the questioned area (#5)
The tent was moved and photographs were taken of the questioned area by the tree root (#7). Photographs of the areas (#4, #5 and #6) with surveyor flags mounted were taken to reference those areas tested and photographed. All photographs were left with Inspector Gitchell.
[signed] Donald E. Smith, Criminalist
Soil samples were submitted on May 14, 1993, but for unknown reasons not tested until 4 months later, and did not react to the luminol.
The result was considered inconclusive as it was not likely to detect blood from a four month old soil sample in the first place.
Although the luminol reaction results were not admissible in the trials, for analysis purposes, it tells an irrefutable story. The obvious counter-argument could only be that investigators were new to the technique, some of the initial testing was unable to be photographed, or to any conspiracies, that detectives simply made up results for some purpose.
However, as none of the investigators present had the autopsy results prior to the testing, and most certainly did not have Jessie Miskelley’s “account” to draw from, outside of the known injuries and other more circumstantial evidence in this case, these findings certainly further support there were multiple perpetrators in this crime- and that it all went down right there.
In 1998, Damien Echols filed a Rule 37 hearing for causes of incompetent counsel and due to his “actual innocence.” Jessie Miskelley lost his appeal to overturn his conviction also in 1998, but It was not until 2008 that Baldwin and Miskelley filed their Rule 37 petitions. For purposes of evaluation, I am including affidavits , exhibits and testimony excerpts from some of the expert witnesses at all three hearings and subsequent related appearance spanning from 1998- 2008.
Brent Turvey, of Knowledge Solutions, LLC trained under renowned blood spatter expert Dr. Henry Lee, did not consider any of the luminal reports when hired by Dan Stidham in 1998 for his expert opinion in his representation of Jessie Miskelley requesting a new trial. Turvey’s report found (here) was largely the impetus for future defense experts for all three defendants to “weigh in”.
While Turvey’s work was largely unsupported once his infamous “bitemark” was debunked and he bought into the “Baldwin knife” which has since been abandoned by all subsequent defense experts, as the first guy up at bat so to speak, his testimony demonstrated the burgeoning direction to the CSI Effect the West Memphis Three would take toward their ultimate freedom.
I explore Turvey’s initial observations taken directly from his report, in the beginning of each unique victim’s autopsy segment, followed by updated relevant expert information and my subsequent analysis.
Autopsy By Coroner- Autopsy By Proxy
In the interest of brevity, I intend to focus on the dissenting views of the experts, and I stipulate that in no report that I have reviewed, was there evidence of sodomy or object penetration of any of the boys.
While I believe Dr. Perretti’s prior experience with cases that involved same did form his opinion on the possibility as it relates to some of the injuries, I do not believe that such testimony should have been permitted at trial, nor would it be permitted today.
Memphis Triple Homicide May 5, 1993
James M. Moore #ME-329-93
Steve E. Branch #ME-330-93
Chris M. Byers #ME-331-93
LOCATION: On May 6th, 1993, all three victims were found, bound wrist to ankle with shoe laces, in the water of a drainage ditch, in a heavily wooded area called the Robin Hood hills, behind the Blue Beacon Truck Wash in West Memphis, Arkansas. An equivocal forensic examination of all available crime scene and autopsy photos, crime scene video, investigator’s reports, witness statements, family statements, autopsy reports and numerous other sources to be listed as referenced in the endnote section of this report. The purpose of this preliminary examination was to competently assess the nature of the interactions between the victims and their environments as it contributed to their deaths as indicated by available forensic evidence, and the documentation regarding that evidence.
James M. Moore
James Michael Moore autopsy found here.
The following forensic information is taken directly from the official autopsy report filed by Dr. Frank J. Peretti of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Medical Examiner Division, dated 5-7-93, Case No. ME-329-93 and/ or from The official coroner’s report filed by Kent Hale, Crittenden County Coroner, dated 5-6-97.
The purpose of this section is not to present an all inclusive, detailed account and explanation of every piece of information in these reports, but rather to explore these reports, with the corresponding photos, for consistency, possible omissions, and to review injuries or patterns that this examiner deemed to be significant to the case.
Wound Pattern Analysis
This victim received more traumatic head injuries than any of the other victims in this case. Dr. Peretti states that defense wounds were present on the victim’s hands. These wounds were very few, indicating that victim was incapacitated quickly after the attack began. So the nature of these head injuries, and the limited defensive type wounds, combine to indicate sudden, forceful, and repeated blows that resulted in abraded contusions, multiple lacerations, and multiple skull fractures.
There is an unexplained directional pattern abrasion just below the victim’s right anterior shoulder area.
This unexplained injury does not correspond with any of the physical evidence collected at the location that victim was discovered. It is furthermore inconsistent with any of the naturally occurring elements that exist in that environment. The best conclusion that this examiner can reach is that this pattern abrasion was created by forceful, directional contact with something that was not found at that crime scene, whether it be a weapon, a surface or something else capable of creating that pattern.
The shoelace ligatures used to restrain this victim did not leave deep furrows, and also did not leave abrasions. This indicates that the victim was not struggling while the ligatures were in place. This indicates further that the victim was very much unconscious when the ligatures were affixed to his wrists and ankles.
We know that the victim drowned, that is to say that hemorrhagic edema fluid was present in the victim’s lungs, indicating that the victim was breathing when he was placed into the 2ft of water in the drainage ditch at Robin Hood Hills.
Together, these facts suggest that the purpose of the ligatures in this victim’s case was to keep the victim from moving around or being able to swim should he regain consciousness once he had been thrown into the water. It is this examiners opinion that the assailant in this case demonstrated all manner of awareness and cognizance at this location. The assailant knew that this victim was not dead when they threw this victim into the water, and that the ligatures would assist to complete the act of deliberate homicide should the victim become conscious.
Lack Of Injuries
When compared to the other two victims in this case, who were found at the same location, bound nude with shoelace ligatures in the same fashion, the most striking discrepancy is the lack of injuries suffered by this victim. In the crime scene and autopsy photos made available to this examiner, there were no readily discernible bite marks visible, the genitals have not been visibly disturbed or molested, and there are no discernible stab wounds. This lack of attention is very telling, and will be discussed in the Offender Characteristics section of this report. There is also, again, a lack of mosquito bites to this victim, which, as mentioned earlier, suggests that he received his injuries elsewhere first. This because the injuries took time to inflict, time during which many mosquito bites would have been received, even after death.
Analysis: I find the statement that he had the least amount of injuries, yet the most severe head injuries in dire conflict, as he died from multiple injuries, and drowning. The fractures to his head and lacerations to his left and front right skull were enough to cause his death within minutes on their own, and there can be no doubt that he received them while he was already unconscious because of the lack of injury at the ligature sites. There is very little hemorrhage involvement with the open lacerations, and all lacerations were abraded; one with a dovetail and upside down L producing an ovid fracture. In Jesse Miskelley’s confessions, he says one of them was moving as he was put in the water while he was leaving. I believe the reason he never mentioned that Michael Moore was beat about the head with an instrument of some kind is because he never saw that. Michael was located in the ditch just below the oak with the exposed root that had the luminol result “shaped like a V”, which would be consistent with him struggling to get out of that water, on that bank, with a cast off or blood spatter pattern consistent with someone beating him toward the bank and in front of that tree.
Mosquito bites: Only females take a blood meal, so that potentially reduces the population by 50%, and at no time will they bite a deceased person. They are attracted mostly by carbon dioxide, released from a breathing person. Both Dr. Haskell and Dr. Goff agreed to this ultimately.
What is further curious to me, is that while Turvey was hired by Miskelley, who confessed at least three times by the date of the generation of this report, does he not note the obvious discrepancy for the placement of Mike Moore upstream, or that he was found on his right side with the left side surfacing when in effect dislodged by Det. Mike Allen. Moore was also hogtied differently, with different knots than the other 2 victims, with ONE black shoelace. There is a reason that Turvey was not given Miskelley’s updated confession following his conviction, and instructed to disprove it; he would not have been able to.
Steven Edward Branch
Wound Pattern Analysis
There are numerous violent, traumatic injuries to this victim’s face and head, as well as numerous superficial scratches, abrasions, and contusions noted throughout the rest of his body. Dr. Peretti, however, does not note the presence of extensive defensive wounds.
This indicates a violent, overpowering attack on this victim that he was unable to put up resistance against. The constellation of wounds are very similar to those inflicted on James Moore, however they are much more intense and include the victim’s face.
This level of attention paid to the victim’s face, in terms of depersonalization and rage, is indicative of familiarity and that will be explored later on in this report.
Furthermore, there is the existence of patterned injuries all over this victim’s face that could be bite marks. Since the ME may have missed this crucial evidence, other areas of his body may show bite mark evidence as well. The autopsy photos of this victim supplied to this examiner were not of sufficient quality to make an absolute determination of any kind, and would require a thorough examination by a qualified forensic odontologist for an informed, conclusive analysis. [note: Dr. Thomas David, board certified forensic odontologist, has confirmed the wound as a human adult bitemark and excluded Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley as the offender using bite impressions obtained from the men in prison] Bite mark evidence is very important in any criminal case because it demonstrates behavior and lends itself to individuation. It can reveal to an examiner who committed the act, because bite marks can be as unique as fingerprints. And, once established, it also reveals the act itself; biting.
Another unidentified pattern compression abrasion can be found on the back of Steve Branch’s head. The source of this injury caused a 3? inch fracture at the base of the skull with multiple extension fractures that terminate in the foramen magnum (that’s the hole at the base of the skull where the spinal cord connects to the brain). Upon close examination, this pattern injury is consistent with compression made from footwear. Again, without better photos supplied to the examiner showing a variety of angles, it’s very difficult to make a positive identification of any kind. But the pattern is consistent with a footwear impression, and would require a footwear impression expert to analyze and make an informed, competent determination.
The shoelace ligatures used to restrain this victim did leave deep furrows, and also did leave patterned abrasions on both the wrists and ankles. This indicates that the victim was struggling while the ligatures were in place. This indicates further that the victim was very much conscious before or after the ligatures were affixed to his wrists and ankles. We know that the victim drowned, that is to say that hemorrhagic edema fluid was present in the victim’s lungs, as well as in the victim’s mouth, indicating that the victim was breathing when he was placed into the 2ft of water in the drainage ditch at Robin Hood Hills.
Together, these facts, again, suggest that the purpose of the ligatures in this victim’s case was to keep the victim from moving around or being able to swim should he regain consciousness once he had been thrown into the water. It is this examiner’s opinion that the assailant in this case demonstrated all manner of awareness and cognizance at this location. The assailant knew that this victim was not dead when they threw this victim into the water, and that the ligatures would assist to complete the act of deliberate homicide should the victim become conscious.
Lack Of Injuries
There is again a lack of evidence to support any sort of strangulation. Dr. Peretti states that his examination of the neck of this victim revealed no injuries, and the photos that this examiner has seen support that conclusion.
Analysis: He missed the wound to Stevie Branch’s penis entirely. While not contained in his formal autopsy report, it was proven during the trial that Dr. Peretti’s colleague was called into evaluate what Turvey was calling “bite marks” and was ruled out. The fact that bite impressions did not match Echols, Baldwin or Miskelley was in no way exculpatory, and I will save you the bite by some animal with a rough tounge report nonsense I had to read .
The 3” fracture at the base of the skull, which “spiderwebbed” into subsequent fractures, also very likely severed his spinal cord, so one must assume this injury was also quite perimortem.
Steve ‘s left face was found to be abraded on the entire left side, and is consistent with someone either stomping on right side of his neck and fracturing it, with an obvious boot print, if the left side of the face was on the ground.
The gouging wounds- likely had to be inflicted following the fracture due to the lack of hemorrhage in comparison to the severity of the wound, and all experts agreed the injury was likely perimortem. So the question becomes- why?
Seems like a very important question, second only to what caused the trauma, based on the constellation of terminal injuries already inflicted on him. Wouldn’t the only thing left to do at that point be to submerge him?
It is my theory- therein lies the problem. Byers was put in the ditch first, and we know he was already deceased, therefore, he sinks. Stevie Branch is placed in the water next to him, and he either begins moving or floats and the suspects thinks he is still alive, and uses an implement to force him into the ditch bottom until he succumbs and stays submerged. I will leave out the specifics of the gouging wound as to why I think that resulted in the usage of the other end of the ice axe on Michael Moore. The luminol result, found in the ditch bed itself, after it was drained, slightly downstream from Byers and Branch, but still upstream from Moore could also support this theory. We know that Byers had already bled out, but Branch was still alive when he was put into the water and the only significant bleeding wound on his person capable of leaving blood evidence in the bottom of the ditch to survive it simply being washed away in the creek, there is a high degree of probability he bled directly into the dirt. He was found face down.
It should be noted that this victim’s injuries were the most extensive, most violent, and most overtly sexual of the all the victims in this case. The nature and extent of this victim’s wounds indicate that the assailant spent the most time with this victim.
Additionally, this victim’s toxicology report revealed non-therapeutic levels of carbamazepine in the blood. All of these differences are very important, and will be explored in the later sections of this report.
Wound Pattern Analysis
There are numerous violent, traumatic injuries to this victim’s head, specifically to the base of the skull. There was also evidence of the violent emasculation of the victim’s sex organs, extensive lacerations and bruising to the victim’s buttocks, as well as numerous superficial scratches, abrasions, and contusions noted throughout the rest of his body. Dr. Peretti also noted that there were numerous healed injuries of varying nature on this victim. Dr. Peretti, however, did not note the presence of defensive wounds.
Again, this indicates a violent, overpowering attack on this victim that he was unable to put up resistance against. The general constellation of wounds to this victim is more advanced, more extensive, more overtly sexually oriented and includes the use of a knife.
This knife was used not only to inflict multiple stabbing and cutting injuries to the victim’s inner thighs and genital area, it was used in the emasculation process. There is, unmentioned in either the ME’s or Coroner’s reports, what appears to be a clear impression of the knife handle on the right side of the large gaping defect left behind after the removal of the victims penis, scrotal sac, and testes. This was impression was created when the knife was thrust full length into the victim by the assailant, during the process of emasculation. This indicates forceful, violent thrusts. The nature of this emasculation, as indicated by these wounds, is neither skilled nor practiced. It was a rageful, careless, but purposeful act carried out in anger.
It is the opinion of this examiner that this injury would have resulted in massive, uncontrollable blood-loss, from which the victim could not have survived without immediate medical attention.
It should also be pointed out that the nature of the stab wounds inflicted on the victim’s genital area, separate from those received during the emasculation process, show marked irregular configuration and pulling of the skin. This indicates that either the knife was being twisted as the assailant stabbed the victim, or that the victim was moving as the blade was withdrawn.
The second set of injuries is described as five superficial cutting wounds on the left buttock (pictured on the left in this photo at the right). It should be noted that these injuries are actually lacerations, as indicated by the bridging between the open tissue, and the irregular edges. Both indicators are apparent upon close examination of the photographs. It is the opinion of this examiner that this set of injuries is most consistent with the parental whipping given to Chris Byers by Mark Byers. It is further the opinion of this examiner that after having received this set of injuries, which tore open the skin and would have resulted in some severe bleeding, the victim would have been unable to walk or ride a bicycle without incredible pain and discomfort.
The third set of injuries is the multiple linear superficial interrupted cuts on the right buttock region (pictured in the photo above on the right). These injuries are not consistent with having been made by a belt as they are cuts. The edges are not irregular, and the cuts are interrupted, again indicating movement by the victim or the assailant during the attack.
Furthermore, there is the existence of bruised ovoid compression injuries all over this victim’s inner thigh that could be suction type bite marks. Since the ME may have missed this crucial evidence, other areas of his body may show bite mark evidence as well. The autopsy photos of this victim supplied to this examiner were not of sufficient quality to make an absolute determination of any kind, and would require a thorough examination by a qualified forensic odontologist for an informed, conclusive analysis.
Bite mark evidence is very important in any criminal case because it demonstrates behavior and lends itself to individuation. It can reveal to an examiner who committed the act, because bite marks can be as unique as fingerprints and positively identify a suspect. And, once established, it also reveals the act itself; biting. The shoelace ligatures used to restrain this victim did leave deep furrows, and also did leave patterned abrasions on both the wrists and ankles. This indicates that the victim was struggling while the ligatures were in place. This indicates further that the victim was very much conscious before or after the ligatures were affixed to his wrists and ankles.
We know that this victim did not drown, that is to say that no hemorrhagic edema fluid was present in the victim’s lungs, or well in the victim’s mouth. This indicates that the victim was already dead when he was placed into the 2? ft of water in the drainage ditch at Robin Hood Hills. This is, again, very different from the other two victims in this case.
Dr. Richard Souviron forensic odontologist: all mutilation is peri and post mortem, no knife was used.
On a final note, Mr. Hale states in his supplemental report on Chris Byers that there is a stab wound on his head. This is actually incorrect, and rectified by Dr. Peretti who states in his autopsy report of Chris Byers that the same injury is a 1¼-inch laceration to the left parietal scalp.
There is also, again, a lack of mosquito bites to this victim, which, as mentioned earlier, suggests that he received his injuries elsewhere first. This because the injuries took time to inflict, time during which many mosquito bites would have been received, even after death.
Additionally, unlike Steve Branch, there is no overkill present in this victim’s face. That is to say that this is another of the marked differences between the killings of Steve Branch and Chris Byers which is very important to note, and which will be explored more thoroughly in this report.
It is apparent from the physical evidence in this case that Chris M. Byers was attacked with sudden, violent force from which he defended himself in only a limited fashion. It appears as though this attack took place, at least in part, while his cloths were off and while the shoelace ligatures restrained him. He was sexually assaulted (an assault of a sexual nature, to areas of the body considered to be sexual, that does not include sexual penetration), and associated stab wounds indicate that he may have been conscious during several phases of the attack.
Analysis: How does he miss that the dosage of (car) was sub therapeutic, meaning below the level at which he was described and confuse it as non-therapeutic, in his estimation, as a possible means to subdue him. He completely missed the fact that it is likely that the level, found in his blood, was greatly reduced because there was very little blood volume left in his body. AND, it was a prescribed medication. Turvey does not mention the other factors that support Byers died first, and he died quickly and violently. While he did have stomach contents, he did not have any urine in his blatter and there was substantative evidence his bowels had evacuated at the scene, commonly a result of an immediate violent death.
Consensus or Conundrum- Depends Who You Ask
Regardless of which expert one believes, within the confines of each report, is the absence of the belief with any certainty that the “Baldwin” serrated knife was used. What they all agree on, is that the gouging injuries to Branch and Byers were very similar. They all agree that there was evidence of blunt force trauma, significant curvilinear fractures, what is commonly referred to in Forensic Pathology today as “chop wounds”, other sharp force trauma.
Thoughts onPost Mortem Animal Predation
I agree it is possible that snapping turtles could have caused what looks to be possible claw marks and at least one possible bite mark. I am emphasizing possible because I don’t think one can rule out animal predation 100%
Bryn Ridge himself testified he has seen snapping turtles in that area, some time ago. That said, there was not so much as a crawfish found in that creek as it was being pumped out, and that included a screen.
Dr. Spitz went as far as to suggest that somehow a carnivore of some kind was the cause of the animal predation although all oter evidence suggests that the boys were completely submerged, as well as their clothing, and there was obviously no animal tracks or other artifacts at the scene that would make that theory sound anything remotely believable. Thankfully, he stopped short of suggesting that a new breed of homicidal carnivores with a cleaner crew who could walk upright was responsible.
Fortunately I Dressed For Bushwhacking
Starting with one of the most important parts of the autopsy evidence, is the very fact that detectives knew VERY LITTLE about it outside of the cause of death, until late May at the earliest. So little in fact, that Gary Gitchell, Lead Investigator, wrote a list of follow up questions to the crime lab on May 26. (need link here)
Frank J. Peretti, MD preformed all three autopsies on May 7, 1993, and filed reports on May 10th for cause of death only. Those causes of death btw, were all listed as homicide by multiple injuries, period. Nobody knew that two boys died from drowning, and not all three. This is particularly concerning because the first conversation that Steve Jones and Det Sudbury had with Damien Echols was on May 7th prior to autopsy and in his subsequent interview with Det Bryn Ridge on May 10, when asked by Ridge how he knew about that, Echols told Ridge that Jones told HIM that whoever did this “urinated” in the mouths of the boys.
Urine was found in the stomachs of 2 of the victims, but that information was given by phone only to Gitchell, and not before May 16th, 1993. There is no possible way Damien Echols could have had case- specific information unless he was there or knew someone that was that told him what occurred, as the detective interviewing him at the time was clueless to that fact during the interview.
There are certainly many statements by both Echols and Miskelley prior to arrest that indicate they had prior knowledge of the murders, but I have been able to ride the see saw on those for the most part, like many.
The fact that Echols knew that there was urine in the stomachs of two victims, when it was intentionally ommitted from the report can only mean he was there, or knew someone who was, and in my opinion, both.
To be continued, West Memphis Three Part III
Crime lab Index: http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/img/crimelab.html
Chris Byers autopsy:
Turvey Report: http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/b_turvey_profile.html