Comment about Jessie Misskelley’s 2/17/94 confession

My plan for this site had two separate sections: the “Case” section would be a basic survey of the evidence, the “Blog” section would be, well, more of a blog. The blog would have comments enabled for open discussion, the case summary would just be articles without comment threads.

Since I’m not too handy with the WordPress, it took me a while to figure out how to enable comments on one section and disable comments on another section. And then when I thought I had it figured out, someone left a comment on one “Case” page still open. So I figured it out again. That fix removed the one comment, and the commenter got peeved. And he had a point. If I took the time to write up a comment on someone’s site, using the “Comment” box provided, only to discover the comment deleted a couple days later, I’d be peeved too.

So I’ll publish the comment here, respond to it, then anyone can add a comment. The page in question was Jessie Misskelley’s confession – February 17, 1994. This comment was written by Fishmonger Dave.

Yawn. If you’re going to mention Blood of Innocents, why not toss in that the author is now a supporter?

You’re right that the question is “was Jessie telling the truth in this confession?” As I’m sure you’re aware, Jessie vacillated many times depending on who he was talking to – wanting, in many cases, to please the person he was addressing. Keep in mind the context of this statement – he had just been sentence to life + 40 for a crime he didn’t commit and was being offered a plea deal to remove the “life sentence” (Fogelman is in on video doing so in the Paradise Lost special).

The real issue with Jessie’s statements is that he has never given one that (1) aligned with the forensics known at the time (1993/1994), (2) aligned with the forensics known today (2011), (3) contained ANY details unknown to the police, (4) that contained correct, verifiable details that weren’t supplied to him.

I laid out a bunch of the problems with his statements – including this one – there’s more in the discussion on the wm3blackboard (and other boards, too, I’m sure, but I frequent the blackboard). The ones I (and Boo) found are online at: http://www.dpdlaw.com/jmstatements.htm.

It’s disturbing that people would rely on Jessie’s statements to support a belief that these convictions aren’t a farce.

My response:

Jessie Misskelley first confessed to police on June 3, 1993. His defense argued at trial that this confession was false. On February 4, 1994, a jury convicted and sentenced him. Over the next two weeks, Misskelley dropped the “false confession” pretense and confessed anew several times. On February 4, on the drive to prison, he told his escorts the whole story. On February 8, Misskelley gave another lengthy, tape-recorded confession to his defense lawyer. And on February 17, Misskelley made another tape-recorded confession to prosecutors over the strenuous objections of his defense lawyers.

Many casual WM3 supporters don’t know about the three February 1994 confessions. Paradise Lost mentions the 2/4/94 confession briefly, but it’s easy to miss. The film doesn’t mention the 2/8 or 2/17 confessions at all.

Serious WM3 supporters point to minor variations between the statements to suggest they’re all false. And there are some variations. In the 6/3/93 confession, Jessie said that the killings happened in the morning and that the victims were tied with rope; in the February 94 confessions, he admitted he had lied about those details to confuse the cops. In the 6/3/93 confession, Jessie downplayed his role, claiming he only restrained one victim from running away; in the 2/17/94 confession, he admitted greater participation in the crime, including beating one victim unconscious, removing their shoelaces so Damien and Jason could tie them up and sticking around until the victims were dead. But on the main points of the story, Misskelley’s confessions were extremely detailed and consistent.

Fishmonger Dave’s claim that Misskelley’s confessions didn’t align with the forensic evidence is simply false. There was little forensic evidence recovered from the crime scene, and none of it contradicts Misskelley’s account.

It’s true that prosecutors considered offering Misskelley a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against Baldwin and Echols (whose trial began on February 28, 1994). However, once Misskelley was convicted and sentenced by a jury, the prosecutors did not have the power to alter his sentence unilaterally. Any plea bargain would have had to be approved by the judge. In the February 22, 1994, pretrial hearing, Judge Burnett stated, “There’s been some talk about the Court’s power to reduce the sentence, and we have talked about that indirectly. And for the record, I have never said I would do anything one way or the other. In fact I tried to tell each of you that I wasn’t going to make any commitment that I’d do anything, one way or the other, whether he testifies, doesn’t testify or what.” When Misskelley made his tape-recorded confession on February 17, 1994, prosecutors granted him only “use immunity”, meaning this statement could not be used against him on appeal.

Anyone researching the WM3 case for themselves should certainly check out Fishmonger Dave’s analysis (which, ironically, has no comment forms).

2 thoughts on “Comment about Jessie Misskelley’s 2/17/94 confession”

  1. yes i believe his confession on feb 17 1994 was the truth an there was no reason for him to confess he was not forced to make a confession and he already had been convicted and did not confess to get a reduced sentence he was telling the truth

  2. Had an interest in the case since watching the HBO documentary in the 90’s.

    I find myself wanting to know how the story ends. To listen t0 Echols he seems perfectly plausible. (although it’s obvious every fiber of his being is laser focussed on getting off death row – that in of itself doesn’t make him guilty – I mean who WOULDN’T do anything to get off death row?). So yes I think you can tell he’s playing a meticulously planned strategy with his words and every single word. But then who can blame him. What bothers me is that when I look for signs that he is the manipulative callous psychopath that he surely must be if he DID committ these murders – it’s impossible to tell. Same with Casey Anthony – you can’t tell. So that’s why i want to know how the story ends..are these types of people that live amongst us REALLY that dificult to spot? Or is Echols innocent and that’s why I can’t see it..
    Same with Baldwin and Miskelly – I just don’t sense any violent or edgy vibe or undercurrent from them.
    So that’s why i want to know how the story ends..are these types of people that live amongst us REALLY that dificult to spot?

    Some questions:
    I still don’t understand WHY miskelley confessed in 94. I’m guessing no one knows and we’e just speculating. I know you’ve said here that there was little chance of his sentence getting reduced but if there was a *chance* however small that would be motivationd enough surely?

    Don’t understand about the rope vs shoe laces. To confuse the police? For what purpose?- what would be the point? He’s confessing to his general involvement…what’s in it for him to say a rope was used instead of shoelaces? Doesn’t make sense to me.

    I feel frustrated at the lack of detail in the confession. If I was interviewing – I’d want to know exactly and in detail how the rendezvous between Misskelley and the other 2 was arranged. Did they run into each other somewhere and say “meet you at such and such place at 5pm?” (or whatever time). Was anyone else around when this conversation took place? Was it earlier the same day? Or a previous day? Or did they arrange it over a landline/phone? (none of them had cell phones right?). Miskelley said it was a pre arranged meeting to pick up girls correct? So WHEN and HOW was the rendezvous organized? Or did he just randomly run into them and start hanging out and he’s lying about it being pre arranged ? If so why? What would that matter how they came to meet up?

    If Misskelley was so paraletically drunk – how did he chase down the boy that ran away? How can he even remember anything if he was THAT drunk?Or iis he claiming he was drunk (even if the story is fictitious) to diminish his responsibility?

    Miskelley said it was light when the boys got to the spot. So it must have been at the least no later than 8pm (can’t remember what time of year it was). And the deaths took place after midnight according to forensics? So the three of them were there for hours and hours with these kids before they finally killed/drowned them? Miskelley’s confession doens’t seem to indicate that the attacks went on for hours and hours.

    Just some thoughts – and apologies if I’m covering old ground here.

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