SUNDANCE 2012

'West of Memphis' Documentary Reveals Three New Key Witnesses

by
January 20, 2012

The West Memphis 3

The first press screening for the Peter Jackson produced documentary West of Memphis hit Sundance this morning (we haven't seen it yet, but will before the festival is through), and along with the first screening comes some news for the real world as well as the film industry. While those who have been keeping up with the HBO documentary series Paradise Lost think this new documentary has nothing else to offer, a press release (via Deadline) was just unveiled which announces three new key witnesses in the investigation of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley along with the name of the real killer.

As children, local boy Michael Hobbs Jr. apparently told his friends "my uncle Terry murdered those three little boys." Each of the new witnesses were placed under a polygraph and testified under penalty of purjury:

"One day Michael picked us up in his truck. He was very quiet and upset. Michael then said to us, ‘you are not going to believe what my dad told me today. My Uncle Terry murdered the three little boys.’ According to Michael, his dad called this ‘The Hobbs Family Secret’ and he asked us to keep it a secret and not tell anyone.”

Another witness said, "One night last winter, Michael and I were playing pool in his basement when the third friend asked about the West Memphis Three case which had been in the news. Michael responded by saying, ‘My uncle killed three kids in West Memphis.’ Michael was dead serious when he said this.” DNA consistent with Terry Hobbs, stepfather of victim Stevie Branch, was later discovered in the knot of a shoelace used to restrain victim Michael Moore. WItnesses have also provided sworn statements that they saw Terry Hobbs with the three children on the day of the murders, immediately before they disappeared.

Sounds like Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh funding the investigation turned out to be the best thing anyone could have done in order to clear the names of The West Memphis 3, and this development could make this the definitive documentary of this tragic tale. Head over to Deadline for more details on the new evidence and witnesses as well as the confidential tip hotline to offer anymore crucial information. Meanwhile, stay tuned for our review of West of Memphis and all 2012 Sudance coverage over the next week.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tjstalcup Thomas Stalcup Jr
    this is great to hear this, I just always worry about witnesses coming up after the fact, especially on a case with this much publicity.
  • movieguru
    Is that Mark Zuckerberg? (far bottom right)
  • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
    Yeah Paradise Lost 3 ended on the Terry note too.
  • Anonymous
    Many people believe the WM3 were not innocent but guilty as charged and that they were the ones that committed the crime. They were found guilty by a unanimous jury the first time. They plead guilty instead of waiting for a trial the second time. Two of the new "witnesses" against Hobbs are fourth-hand statements. They claim that Michael Hobbs told them something, which Michael Hobbs heard from his father, which he heard from someone else. Another "witness" tells a story about overhearing an actual Terry Hobbs confession. He keeps it to himself for eight years, then tells defense lawyers and filmmakers, who include the story in a press release on the day their movie premieres at Sundance. The DNA found at the scene of the crime of the three murdered boys that was supposedly from the step father was from a hair that could have come from simple contact with one of the victims. The hair could have belonged to 1.5 percent of the population (or several million people). Misskelley confessed three separate times, once with his lawyer present. Misskelley also told two other people about the crime before he was arrested. Baldwin told someone else he committed the crimes. Echols was seen in muddy clothes near the crime scene. Echols is reported to have either told or bragged about the crime to four people before he was arrested. Echols also had a history of psychiatric treatment. His reported actions included brutally killing a dog, starting fires at his school, threatening to kill his teachers and parents and stating he liked to drink blood.
    • JCooper
      If there is such a strong case of guilt, then why do family members of the murdered boys believe the WM3 are innocent? Stevie Branch's mother, the ex-wife of Terry Hobbs, and Mark Byers have publicly stated the WM3 were wrongly convicted.  The families understand that keeping the WM3 behind bars prevents any efforts to identify the boys' real killer and bring him or her to justice. There was no physical evidence that links the murders to the WM3. The state of Arkansas would not have released the WM3 and allowed three murderers to walk free if they felt they had a solid case against them.  The Alford Plea was offered to the WM3 as preventive measure to insure the WM3 would not sue the state and the prosecutors for judicial misconduct.    Misskelley recanted his confessions and refused to testify against Echols and Baldwin at their trials.  Misskelly's "confessions" did not match the evidence in the case.  The use of false confessions have been documented especially in cases where DNA has exonerated the innocent. If you discount the second (or fourth) hand statements by the new witnesses, then why do you give credence to all the comments by those who fingered the WM3.  
    • JCooper
      If there is such a strong case of guilt, then why do family members of the murdered boys believe the WM3 are innocent? Stevie Branch's mother, the ex-wife of Terry Hobbs, and Mark Byers have publicly stated the WM3 were wrongly convicted.  The families understand that keeping the WM3 behind bars prevents any efforts to identify the boys' real killer and bring him or her to justice. There was no physical evidence that links the murders to the WM3. The state of Arkansas would not have released the WM3 and allowed three murderers to walk free if they felt they had a solid case against them.  The Alford Plea was offered to the WM3 as preventive measure to insure the WM3 would not sue the state and the prosecutors for judicial misconduct.    Misskelley recanted his confessions and refused to testify against Echols and Baldwin at their trials.  Misskelly's "confessions" did not match the evidence in the case.  The use of false confessions have been documented especially in cases where DNA has exonerated the innocent. If you discount the second (or fourth) hand statements by the new witnesses, then why do you give credence to all the comments by those who fingered the WM3.  
    • Anonymous
      Despite the spin and controversy fabricated by defense attorneys, documentary filmmakers, and celebrities, certain aspects of the past 18 years are irrefutable. Three precious eight-year-old boys went for a bicycle ride on May 5, 1993, and never came home. They were murdered in a most vicious and horrifying manner. Jessie Misskelley has admitted to taking part in these terrible crimes three times on record and at least three additional times off the record. He described in detail how he and his two co-defendants, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin, beat, tortured, and mutilated the boys, hogtied them, and threw them into a muddy ditch to drown. This is irrefutable. Sincerely, Todd Moore, father of Michael Moore Diana Moore, mother of Michael Moore Stevie Branch, Sr., father of Stevie Branch, Jr. Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Stevie Branch, Jr. (four parents of the victims signed this letter) http://wm3truth.com/2012/01/letter-to-ampas-from-victims-parents/ Paradise Lost III: Purgatory glosses over the irrefutable fact that the defendants themselves requested the Alford Plea and chose instead to portray the situation as if the defendants were forced to plead guilty. (website above) DNA never exonerated the three. The DNA found at the scene of the crime of the three murdered boys that supposedly from the step father was from a hair that could have come from simple contact with one of the victims. The hair could have belonged to 1.5 percent of the population (or several million people). So this evidence is weak. Police took a necklace from Echols when he was arrested. An outside crime lab later found blood from two distinct DNA sources on the necklace. One source was consistent with Echols himself. The second source was consistent with both victim Steven Branch and co-defendant Jason Baldwin. The reason there was no DNA or fingerprints from the 3 was because the crime scene was underwater and the bodies were found hours after the crime was committed. Jessie Misskelley maintains guilt to his lawyers – Summer 1993 Contrary to the impression you might get from Paradise Lost, Jessie Misskelley did not recant his confession after 6/3/93. He continued telling his defense lawyers, Dan Stidham and Greg Crow, the same story he told police. http://wm3truth.com/jessie-misskelley-maintains-his-guilt-june-to-september-1993/
  • Jtatum31
    Truly sad to hear that some of the parents of the victims really believe the "bloody necklace" and the "past psychiatric treatment" that Damien went through. If there was a bloody necklace there would have never been a Paradise Lost documentary or an Alford plea. If anything in this letter signed by the Moore's and T. Hobb's was accurate and on the records no one would be fighting to have the wm3 freed.  Also, the question of waiting 8 years to tell about the Hobb's confession. I wouldn't say anything if I thought my uncle killed children, I would be terrified that I would be next. Also, look how long it took people who lied on the stand to come forward and admit they lied about Damien asking them to come to a cult meeting. People do and say things under pressure. Honestly, think about it. A bloody necklace matching the victims DNA and Arkansas would let these men walk????? That would never happen. The prosecutors would have brought that up before that supreme court hearing. Remember the crew from Paradise Lost originally went to West Memphis to film because they believed the WM3 were guilty. Why would they change their minds if the evidence was so overwhelming? I really think that people want this to be over so badly, so they can say that Damien, Jessi, and Jason got what they deserved and this closes the case and can try and move on.The fact is that these parents are telling themselves what they want to hear. I do not think T. Hobb's murdered these boys, but I do think that the corrupt cops, judge, and prosecutor, failed these children and their families. They never even tried to find the really monster that did this.  Why did they never even look to see if there were monster's like John Joubert in the area at the time? They just failed these children so badly. 

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