Past and Present

Mara Leveritt wrote something about last week. Most of the article is behind a pay wall, so I haven’t read it. But she opens with a grammar quibble:

A new website, presents a highly researched and highly selective view of why, as the site puts it, “The West Memphis Three were guilty.”

Were guilty?

Since the crime and trials took place nearly twenty years ago, the past tense strikes me as appropriate. If I had written “the WM3 are guilty”, someone could have responded, “aha, notice he doesn’t say they were guilty back then”.

So just to be clear: the West Memphis 3 (by which I mean Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley) were guilty in 1993 when they killed the three little boys; they were guilty in 1994 when two juries convicted them; they are still guilty today; they remained guilty at all times between May 5, 1993, and the present; and they will remain guilty for the foreseeable future.

Leveritt also describes this site as an “effort to lay out the state’s best possible evidence—in the best possible light for the state—almost as a prosecutor would”. For the record, has no connection to the state of Arkansas or the prosecution. I’m just an interested observer arguing the case in the court of public opinion. We might just as well describe Leveritt’s work as an “effort to create reasonable doubt by any means necessary, unconcerned whether the accused are actually guilty or innocent, almost as a defense lawyer would”.

Jessie Misskelley’s “Bible confession” transcript now at Callahan

The WM3 case archive at posted a major document today: Jessie Misskelley’s February 8, 1994 confession to his defense lawyer, Dan Stidham.

This statement has been dubbed the “Bible confession” in WM3 case lore because Stidham left the prison meeting room to fetch a Bible, then had Misskelley hold his hand on the Bible while he confessed.

Misskelley had been convicted and sentenced four days earlier. Stidham and Misskelley were alone in the room for this confession, which Stidham tape-recorded for his own use. For many years, the general public knew about the 2/8/94 confession indirectly from the transcript of a 2/22/94 pretrial hearing. In November 2008, Stidham’s tape-recording was played in open court for the first time. Newspaper accounts of that court session revealed more detail on what Misskelley had actually said. But until today, a full transcript of Misskelley’s 2/8/94 confession has never circulated publicly.

Two longtime case debaters known as Rudder and Dollparts tracked down the trial transcript in hopes that Stidham’s tape-recording had been transcribed and entered into the official record. And it had! They purchased copies of the relevant pages, scanned them and sent them to Callahan.

Discuss the newly available Bible confession transcript at the WM3 Hoax forum or the WM3 Debate forum.