I almost didn’t want to write this post.
I mean, it’s been over two years since I wrote anything about triple convicted child killer Damien Echols. I feel by doing so, I’m just contributing to his waning 15 minutes. However, someone just had to stick a microphone in front of him recently, and well, here I am.
Sometime this month was the tenth anniversary of the so-called West Memphis 3 being released from prison after taking an Alford Plea. For those of you who may need clarification, an Alford Plea is a type of guilty plea. In other jurisdictions, it’s known as a plea of no contest. It means that the WM3 maintain their ‘innocence’ while admitting that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict them. Again, at its core, the Alford plea is essentially a plea of guilty. And again, for those who need clarification, the Alford plea was the idea of the West Memphis 3 team and was not offered to them by the State of Arkansas.
So as I said, someone in the media felt the need to stick a microphone in front of the face of the 46-year-old man who has the mentality of a 12-year-old goth girl. (Did you know he once moved to Salem, Massachusetts? How edgy.) As with any interview with Echols, it was mostly all about him.
He talks about how he’s still not free from the prison system, even though he’s traveled to the ends of the globe while being a convicted murderer. He talks about how he still remembers the details of his cell on death row, even though he’s been hobnobbing with celebrities for a decade. And of course, he’s still wearing his douchegoggles sunglasses indoors for his fake light sensitivity from his years on death row.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that the interview was conducted by a woman. It seems that Echols only gives interviews almost exclusively to women in order to garner a more sympathetic slant from the media. I know of at least one national journalist who threw her objectivity out the window to come to Echols’ defense. Also, I’ve yet to see any journalist, male or female, ask Echols any hard questions about his murders. Most of them just run with the false narrative of the WM3 being wrongly convicted. I’ve also lost count of how many news articles have called them exonerated. Spoiler, they’re not.
A podcaster is also interviewed for this anniversary piece. The podcaster felt drawn to Echols after meeting him at one of his art shows. If you’ve ever seen any of Echols supposed artwork, it looks like it’s not even fit to grace the Tumblr page of some teenage edgelord, but I digress. This caused the podcaster to start their show about how the WM3 were wrongly convicted because, you know, no one has ever done that before. Of course, this podcaster is a woman. Not there is anything inherently wrong with journalists or podcasters who are women. I would say that the majority of true crime podcasters are women, and they do an outstanding job. However, I just find that it fits Echols’ pattern of ingratiating himself with women to elicit a more sympathetic response from their audiences.
Speaking of WM3 podcasts, something about them just came to me today. True crime podcasting really didn’t take off until the mid-2010’s because of ‘Serial’. By that time, the WM3 faithful had already set their sights on Terry Hobbs because of the so-called DNA evidence that actually in no way implicates Terry Hobbs. What they probably don’t tell you is about the mysterious Bojangle’s man that nobody has produced in close to 20 years, or the fact that they focused on Mark Byers as the suspect for years before the DNA evidence came out. Don’t even get me started on some of the outlandish theories WM3 supporters have tried to get heard in court in the past. I bet that gets swept under the rug on most of these podcasts.
Another thing that I think shows Echols’ desperation to stay relevant is that he actually mentions the victims in this interview. Of course, he doesn’t mention them by name, but he says that nothing will bring ‘the three children’ back. He also adds that nothing will give back the 20 years that he and the ‘other convicted men’ spent in prison. Again, the only name that Damien Echols cares about is his own. He doesn’t mention the name of the victims who are Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore. He also doesn’t mention the name of his cohorts, who are Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin. Their convictions hinged heavily on Misskelley’s multiple confessions, and supposedly Echols and Baldwin have had a falling out. So, I can understand why he doesn’t mention them by name. And he should keep the victims’ names out of his mouth, just on general principle.
The last thing I want to talk about is the accidental destruction of evidence that has happened in the WM3 case. The WM3 team want to test some of the DNA using a new testing method. The only problem is: The evidence is believed to have been accidentally destroyed in a fire at an off-site storage facility. Unfortunately, it’s a modern reality that sometimes evidence gets accidentally or not so accidentally destroyed or mishandled. Do I think the West Memphis police intentionally destroyed the evidence? From what I’ve seen so far, there’s no evidence to indicate that. I’m sure there were other pieces of evidence that weren’t related to the WM3 case that were also destroyed, but you won’t hear that from the WM3 sympathetic sources. That’s not even taking into account that as far as the West Memphis police and the State of Arkansas is concerned, the case is closed. The right people were convicted, and their sentences were upheld multiple times by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
To be honest, Damien Echols doesn’t really want to be exonerated, in my opinion. Besides the fact that he actually committed the murders, Echols would lose his wrongly convicted outcast martyr status and everyone who gives him positive attention would go back to their lives, leaving Echols alone with his obsessive wife Lorri Davis with no real way to make an income. Maybe Johnny Depp could make him his abused pool boy.